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Rethinking Grief: The Science Behind Loss and Finding Healing


spreading the ashes after grief

Grief, that sucker punch that hits you after a loss, often feels like one giant wave of sadness washing everything away. But what if there's more to the story? Here's a surprising idea about grief that challenges the whole "missing everything" thing, and while it might feel counterintuitive, it can offer some comfort.


We often focus on the good stuff about the person we lost. Imagine asking someone grieving what they miss most. Maybe it's remembering the warmth of their hug goodbye, a simple gesture that speaks volumes about their love. Or maybe it's forgetting about their overflowing sock drawer, a minor annoyance that now feels strangely endearing. These positive experiences lit up their brain's reward system, pumping out feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine, creating a powerful bond. And guess what? This intense craving for the good times feels a lot like withdrawal symptoms from a drug. It's a reminder of the love and connection you shared, and it hurts.


Here's the twist, and this is where it gets interesting: while we grieve the good, there's also a subconscious relief from the bad. Remember that messy desk or them always being late? Those are the not-so-fun parts we conveniently forget, the bits linked to not-so-pleasant chemicals like cortisol, the stress hormone. This doesn't mean you didn't love them entirely, but it acknowledges the complexities of any relationship.


Now, this relief might feel insensitive, even wrong. Grief is a deeply personal journey, and there's no right or wrong way to feel. Let yourself feel the anger, the frustration, the sadness – all of it. But acknowledging this relief, alongside the pain, can be a powerful tool. It dismantles the pressure to feel a certain way during grief, a pressure often fueled by culture. After all, different cultures have totally different grieving customs, so maybe prolonged grief is less about true feelings and more about following the script.


I even asked a question that cuts to the heart of it all: would you want your loved ones stuck in grief after you're gone? Most of us would probably say no. Maybe true respect lies in celebrating a life well-lived and finding a way to move forward while carrying those cherished memories. It's not about forgetting the bad or minimizing the pain, but honoring the good and the bad, the laughter and the tears, to create a complete picture of the love you shared.


Grief is a complex and often overwhelming experience. As a grief counselor, I understand the intense emotions that come with loss. This new perspective isn't meant to dismiss the pain, but rather to offer a different lens through which to view grief. By understanding its complexities, you can navigate your healing journey with more self-compassion and acceptance.


Finding Support on Your Healing Journey


If you're struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one, you don't have to go it alone. I specialize in grief counseling and can provide a safe and supportive space to process your emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms.


Here's a powerful testament to the complex nature of grief: I once worked with a client who, after our sessions, hadn't shed a tear of sadness for over two years after losing her grandmother. This might surprise some, but after working together, tears of appreciation, gratitude, and love flowed freely when she spoke about her memories. It's a beautiful reminder that grief doesn't always look the same. Her focus wasn't on the pain of loss, but on the love and joy her grandmother brought to her life. And loving her grandmother for who she really was, and the people that came in to fill the "missing" pieces, allowed her to find a path towards healing and celebrate the life they shared.


Are you wondering if grief counseling is right for you? Many people find immense relief and support through talking to a counselor. Let's chat to see if it could benefit you.



Allow yourself to feel all the emotions and understanding the complexities of the process, you can begin to heal and carry the love forward.


With love

Jaun

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