Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

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Healing the Pain of Loss

There are not many of us who have been personally affected by losing a loved one, who can’t remember exactly where we were when we got the news that a famous person or a loved one had passed away.  Grief is a normal, natural and appropriate response to loss. There surely is a time to grieve.  The grieving process occurs whenever we lose something that we valued . . . someone or something significant. Certainly our whole community has been deeply affected by the automobile accidents and the loss of both adolescents and a father and grandparent. There is little doubt that these tragedies have deeply affected hundreds directly and thousands indirectly.

         The work of grieving entails coping not only with the actual loss, but also with the hopes, dreams, wishes, unfulfilled expectations, feelings and needs experienced for the person we have lost.  Grieving is an integral part of the process and experience of life. The five stages of grieving made famous by Kubler-Ross act as guidelines for understanding the pain of grief. 

Denial   Feelings of shock/ numbness/ disbelief/ resisting belief of reality . . .  non-deliberate and even autonomic happenings in the body and mind – this is normal and healthy
Anger May be loud/dramatic or subtle/quiet . . . needs to be expressed!  . . does not have to be logical or justified . . may be focused in a variety of / different directions
Bargaining/Bartering Why didn’t  I . . . If only I . . . I should have . . . maybe . . . guilt
Depression Sadness . . . crying . . . hurt . . . emotional pain . . . may involve physical discomforts such as heaviness, fatigue, and/or sleeplessness.
Acceptance  Readjustment . . . resolution . . . forgiveness . . .being at the point of being able to enjoy fond or happy memories without having these memories lead to painful feelings of loss, guilt, regret or remorse.  A feeling of freedom, acceptance and new meaning in life.

            With all due respect to the family and friends of those men and women who have died recently, I specifically remember where I was when I received the shocking news that each of my parents had passed.  I clearly remember the “picture” of where I was and how I felt, but now it is only one picture in an album of our life together.  Grief is a spiral of feelings, seasons and experiences.  It is not a straight line with a beginning and ending.  The process of grief is healing the pain of loss and keeping treasured memories and love within our hearts and lives.  May the God of all comfort provide us with His presence and healing as we walk this journey together.

© Dr Dan Trathen 

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