I have spent a lot of time thinking about and working with grief including the pain, doubt, fear and shame that accompanies this human condition. While I have come to understand that grief is a normal and natural condition, I now also understand that grief as an emotion is different from living with the feeling of grief.
Grief is complicated, wrapped in misunderstanding and worthy of a closer look.
As an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist, we are shown that grief occurs whenever a familiar pattern of behavior changes. What does that mean? This idea may or may not be familiar to you; I struggled to understand the concept until I thought of the following examples from my life:
The loss of a relationship is an obvious example of a pattern that changes. Whether it is a first love or a love that has lasted a lifetime, when a relationship ends it can be devastating. When there isn’t an answer to you calling their name, the pattern has changed and grief enters. Many examples of this type of loss is common and I’ll re-visit some of them in later writings.
Loss of a job is another example that most people will understand. When you have gotten into the rhythm of a job and the job is no longer available, you can experience grief. Whether it is because the job is over or there was a layoff, when you no longer have to punch a clock or show up as scheduled it can affect your sense of worth and put your life and finances upside down. COVID-19 caused us to miss the relationships that develop in a work environment. This is another example of feeling grief associated with virtual work and a significant pattern change.
Loss of a pet, whether it is missing the daily walk or the couch cuddles is a loss of pattern that can leave you raw. Especially, the unconditional love they give us when that love is no longer there. Pets offer us many examples of living in the moment whether it is scratching at the door for the urgent nature call or the plaintive meows when it is dinner and the bowl is empty.
These living in the moment patterns impact our routines.
If you are like me, I love my morning routine of a morning cup of coffee and a silent prayer at the start of the day. Routines offer consistency and are comforting. You know what to expect. When the unexpected happens and the pattern changes we can be thrown into chaos and struggle with those doubts, fears and shame.
You can bet that at some point in your life, you will be faced with a major change in your routine.
Whether it is one of the situations that I mention above or perhaps one that came to you as you read this post. What we do when our patterns change, how we adjust, what we shed, what we keep and how we pick ourselves up will be covered as I delve into tackling the challenging subject of men’s grief and begin to peal back the layers on my story.