Catholic Church

Grief Brief # 7 

This grief note will invite us to focus on multiple losses that we might face as we grieve. These can occur under three separate circumstances. We will consider each of them.

When we lose a significant other we focus primarily upon the loss of an important person in our lives. Our grief can be centered solely upon the loss of that person. Yet, there are many other secondary losses that are connected with our principle loss. Here is how that happens.

Having lost a spouse, we soon recognize that we have perhaps lost a partner, a soul-mate, a friend. We miss the planning, discussing, and decision-making we may have done jointly. Many responsibilities carried during our lives together by the absent partner are now solely ours, whether we are ready for them or not.

When a child dies, no matter what his or her age may be, we feel the loss of being a guiding and caring parent. We feel that we have been robbed of sharing the dreams, pursuits, or the special events like graduations, weddings, job promotions etc. that could have occurred in that child’s life.

When losing a friend, we miss the special sharing and companionship that was ours. Many a life secret or plan was shared with that person who is now absent from our lives.

These added losses, although sometimes discounted, can add to the burden of grief and mourning that a person can experience.

Another aspect of multiple losses takes into account personal tragedies or crises we may face along with the primary loss. These multiple losses can include: a serious illness that befalls us or a person in our family; some grave misfortune that has come to the life of a friend or family member like serious financial troubles, the loss of a job, an accident, etc. Included in this list are the losses that are consequences of natural disasters like floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, or the like. In all of these circumstances our primary grief, surrounding the loss of a deceased loved one, must sometimes be placed on hold temporarily until the new imposing situations are handled. We will grieve for our lost loved one, but only after the crises or significant problems are dealt with and somewhat resolved.

A third aspect of multiple losses weighs upon us when people we have known and cared about for years begin to die. The causes may be aging, illness, catastrophic occurrences that involve many people (ex.9/11, a significant flood), or acts of violence like shootings, stabbings, riots, accidents, suicides, etc. There is a need to choose well how many of these circumstances will call forth our concern, compassion, and personal caring. The burden of our own grieving process will limit the amount of emotional energy that we can invest in any of these circumstances. When we have grieved and healed adequately, we will have the emotional strength and stamina to get more fully involved in caring and reaching out to others.

Thus we see, from what has been described, that grieving can be multi-faceted. Choosing well where our focus, our attention, and energies are placed is very important so that our own healing is not unduly interrupted. The call is to care for our own grieving selves so that we in time may be able to reach out to others in a loving and caring way.

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