Grief is the natural response to loss. If you’ve ever faced a major loss, you have probably felt the crushing weight that seems to bring everything to a grinding halt — and you know your life will never be the same again.
Once past the initial phase, grief works to help you process the loss, hopefully moving you toward acceptance. The grief phase is agonizing, often resurrecting painful emotions like fear, denial, regret, anger, sadness, rejection, abandonment and withdrawal. Yet in the midst of this terrible time, grief is changing you. It is helping you transition into life without your loved one.
Like waves of the ocean that vary in size, strength and consistency, grief keeps your emotions flowing and moving toward healing. Within that wash of grief, you may at times feel a sense of despair. This is not abnormal or unhealthy in itself, but when despair and despondency overpower you, taking control of your emotions, the natural process of grief can be stunted.
Being stuck in despair is like water collecting and stagnating in a pool. It ‘s a breeding ground for negative, unhealthy reactions to loss — like depression and suicidal thoughts. When someone is trapped in despair, she may feel like life is no longer worth living. While the feeling of not wanting to go on without your loved one is natural after a death, intense and ongoing thoughts about ending your own life are not constructive or healthy. You can expect to feel despair and loneliness over the loss, but withdrawing and wallowing in that despair can affect your physical well-being, relationships, spiritual life and overall ability to deal with living.
If you find yourself mired in despondency, and you think you’ve traded the constantly moving waves of grief for the stagnant pool of despair, it may be time to seek outside help. On this site, we offer referrals to counselors who can help you overcome despair and initiate the healthy flow of grief.
Copyright © 2002 Focus on the Family.
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