No two persons will experience grief in exactly the same way. Each person is a unique individual who brings the peculiar experiences of his/her lifetime to a particular grief experience. In order to understand someone’s reaction to loss, we must, first of all, understand how one’s particular life has evolved.
Grief is one’s reaction to loss. Stored in each person’s memory bank are not only the memories of each loss but also the memory of how that person felt in response to those losses, i.e., the emotional responses to loss.
Each new grief experience evokes one’s memories of all previous losses and their emotional response to those losses. All of this is stored in one’s memory bank. As one comes to each new experience of loss, there is a sense in which he/she re-lives and re-experiences previous grief experiences and the painful emotional responses associated with those losses.
One also brings preconditioning to each experience of loss, i.e., how they have been taught to react to and cope with loss. Preconditioning and environment play a profound role in one’s response to grief.
Each person’s life-situation is unique, and the individual experiences grief within the context of his/her actual life-situation, which means that one’s grief can only be understood in light of the particular circumstances of his/her life. Monthly bills continue to arrive in the mail; babies still soil their diapers; and the car still gets a flat tire and needs an oil-change. The ordinary and extraordinary stresses of life continue. Life offers no respite period simply because one is going through grief.
A grief support program provides a safe and supportive environment in which bereaved persons can take a careful look at their life in such a way as to understand how previous losses, reaction to those losses, preconditioning, environment, and the day-to-day stresses are affecting and determining their response to grief.
This can be an important time of personal discovery, making necessary physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual adjustments, discovering practical coping skills and how to implement them, moving toward the acceptance of loss, and integrating grief into the total fabric and framework of life.