Grief is the term that describes our reaction to loss—and for any two people, that reaction will differ. We all grieve differently. Some turn grief inward or feel uncomfortable sharing our emotions openly, choosing to isolate and handle it all alone. (1)
Others feel conflicting emotions about loss, such as relief as a loved one is released from prolonged suffering. This relief is often accompanied by guilt, further complicating a difficult situation.
Others experience intractable grief that outlives the customary or “normal” mourning period.
The concept of negative space in art is analogous to persistent grief. Negative space denotes the background or empty space that bounds the focal point, or subject, of a painting or a photograph. For people with intractable—or “complicated” grief—all rooms that they inhabit become blurred by negative space, such that the absence of a particular person or circumstance becomes the focus… and they struggle to shake their feelings of profound and pervasive emptiness.
No. And, the answer may be broader than you’d initially imagine. Grieve-able losses may include:
The loss of a parent, spouse, child, relative, or friend; even the death of someone whom you knew only peripherally can unsettle you to your core–especially when the person passes suddenly, before their time, or you admired many of their best qualities
Animals become our loved ones, and we cherish their moody quirks and unconditional love… even when our pets are absolutely rotten and shred and scatter the trash all over the kitchen floor, we’d take them back at their worst to guarantee their presence in our lives again
We grieve the loss of our friendships, our breakups, and divorces—there’s definitely a reason that it’s called heartache!—or even a lover’s act of infidelity, which because laced with an added layer of emotional betrayal, makes coping uniquely difficult
The connection that forms between a pregnant mother, expecting partner, and unborn child is incredibly intimate and when circumstance severs that bond prematurely, it can be devastating—for both parents.
Losing a job can make you feel inadequate, or even remorseful if you feel as though you did something… not quite right… to warrant your employer’s decision. With the passage of time, these emotions of worthlessness and self-blame can transmute into “complicated” grief
From “Death of a Salesman” to “A Raisin in the Sun”, there’s a reason why so many great works of literature detail the death of a dream; when you lose that thing that you’ve worked so hard for or have always dreamed about achieving, it can be difficult to understand your place in life, or where to head next
People with chronic illnesses, sudden paralysis, or traumatic brain injury grieve the loss of all that they could do prior to their injury or illness. Similarly, people who have lived through a profound trauma mourn the loss of what their life was like before the event when anxiety about personal safety was less pressing and intrusive
Moving is a unique category of loss that combines many of the aforementioned topics, from loss of relationships (through physical distance) to loss of a job (having to start your career over somewhere new), to loss of contact with the everyday places that you came to love… even if you didn’t notice it at the time! It’s as they say: Absence [can and many times, it does] make the heart grow fonder.
The physical and psychological indicators of grief will vary from person to person, but may include: