Food for Thought:
Last week I wrote about “Loss and Grief.” This week I will discuss “Finding Meaning In Loss And Grief.”
When we experience any kind of major loss whether it be a loss of a job, loss of a marriage, loss of a home or loss of a loved one, we naturally look for some kind of meaning that makes some sense.
Finding meaning enables us to move forward. Those who are able to find meaning have an easier time grieving than those who don’t. People who are unable to find meaning often become “stuck” in their pain and remain depressed, angry or bitter.
Meaning is different for everyone. Meaning can mean being grateful for the time you had with your loved one, or finding ways to honor and remember that person or realizing the value of life and how short time is.
Meaning can be finding a deeper connection with those around us or mending ties with those we have become estranged from.
The loss can serve as a time to evaluate some changes we might need to make in our life. Maybe we need to be more forgiving or compassionate, kinder or spend more time with those we love.
Former director of the Kubler-Ross Foundation and author of several books, David Kessler, outlines the following guidelines for dealing with finding meaning in loss:
Meaning is relative and personal.
Meaning takes time. You may not find it until months or years later.
Meaning does not require understanding. It is not necessary to understand why someone died in order to find meaning.
Even when you find meaning, you won’t feel it was worth the cost of what you lost.
Your loss is not a test, a lesson, something to handle, a gift or a blessing. Loss is simply what happens to you in life. Meaning is what you make happen.
Only you can find your own meaning.
Meaningful connections will heal painful memories.
In summary, meaning comes from preserving the memories of the loved one and being able to move forward with your own life.
The only way to avoid grief is to avoid love. Love and grief are intertwined and come as a packaged deal.
Eric Fromm once said “To spare oneself from grief at all costs can be achieved only a a price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness.”
Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D., LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls. She can be contacted at 827-0700.