What is Grief?

What is Grief? Grief is defined at deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. All through our lives we will experience death, from the time we our children until we are adults. The usual first deaths we experience in life are that of a pet, usually a cat, dog or fish. As we grow older the deaths, we encounter are grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses, children, aunts, uncles and friends as well as acquaintances. How each one of use works through the loss is unique to ourselves and the relationship of the individual who has died.

It would seem at first, we should be able to understand death itself, as noted above the first deaths we usually experience isn’t human. This is in no way to say the death of a pet is not significant it actually is. During my childhood years my cousin came upon a dead pigeon, he picked it up and took it to his grandfather asking him to fix it. His grandfather told him its was not possible the bird was dead. My cousin cried; his grandfather consoled him the best way possible. A “funeral” was held for the bird as it was buried in the earth. As children we have magical thinking of sorts that our parents, grandparents etc., have some sort of magical powers and they can fix everything and anything. Yes, they may be able to fix some things but not everything, they do their very best to make the loss due to death easier, by comforting us with a few words and allowing us to have a “funeral” for our pets.

Now you may be asking yourself what this has to do with grief? Everything actually. When we love someone, yes even a pet we have feelings of grief. We have a need to talk, to remember, to share, to process our feelings, our emotions and yes to cry. It is the early experiences with death in our formative years that affect our adult years in handling loss. None of us can harbor or hold onto the feelings we have after losing someone we have had a connection to. We need to let out those feelings, of frustration, anger, despair, and gain an understanding of what has happened.

Kahlil Gibran offers some insight into understanding death in his work On Death from his book The Prophet

On Death Kahlil Gibran 1883 (Bsharri, Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate) – 1931 ( New York City)Girl's Heartbreaking Poem At Covid


Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?
For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.


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