- Grief is not only reserved for the loss of a friend or family member. You can grieve the loss of a friendship, the loss of property, moving to a new place or community and leaving a former one. You can grieve the loss of expectation, the loss of trust, and the loss of feeling safe.
- It is important to acknowledge and feel through feelings of loss no matter the socially prescribed “weight” of the loss. There is no hierarchy or set of prerequisites in grief.
- Not allowing ourselves to grieve every day losses does a disservice to us and to our communities.
Let’s start with a shared definition of grief: Grief is the response to loss.
When was the last time you openly grieved?
When was the last time you experienced a loss?
In our society, we have a general tendency towards hierarchy and constructing a way to rank one another. We apply this hierarchical thinking to grief as well. Through this ranking of grief, so much real and potent loss is overlooked, underfelt, and invalidated. The truth of the matter is that we experience losses every day. And when all of that every day grief goes unnoticed, we do ourselves a disservice.
Grief is not only reserved for the loss of a friend or family member. You can grieve the loss of a friendship, the loss of a pet, the loss of property, moving to a new place or community and leaving a former one, losing/ruining a piece of clothing that you loved, discovering a new truth about yourself that might negate a previously held sense of self. You can grieve the loss of expectation, the loss of trust, and the loss of feeling safe.
Have you experienced any of these recently?
Did you grieve for them?
Octavia Butler, a prolific Black feminist and science fiction author, once wrote “All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change.” and Lori Gottleib, a white author and psychotherapist recently wrote “We can’t have change without loss, which is why so often people say they want change but nonetheless stay exactly the same.”
What we can extrapolate from these analyses of change and loss is that humans are always changing – by our own choice and by the nature of our social world – and therefore, we are always grieving the loss that comes with change. The ways in which we choose to acknowledge these changes, this loss, and the resulting grief is complex – especially since we lack a socially normed model for how to honor every day grief. Below are some ideas for how to work through every day grief:
- Acknowledge your loss as a loss. Allow yourself to let go of hierarchy in grief.
- Find a way to meaningfully feel your grief. Some examples of this are:
- Share your grief with a trusted and supported person in your life.
- Honor the loss through a ritual.
- Take time away from your regularly scheduled life to care for yourself.
- Consider speaking with a mental health professional/therapist about your loss. This can be helpful to discover how to grieve meaningfully and access resources for your specific loss.
Experiencing loss and grief does not make you weak, it makes you human.