My Life Feels Out of Control — Is Grief a Factor?

bridge covered with fog_grief_loss_Judy BrizendineWe automatically connect grief to certain circumstances. When someone we deeply love dies, we expect to grieve. However, we may only vaguely link certain situations and experiences to grief, if we associate the two at all. So the questions, ‘Is Grief a Factor?’ and ‘Am I Grieving?’ are important ones to consider.

I recently watched a drug intervention program on television. A young woman seriously addicted to heroin talked about two things in her life that had caused her tremendous pain: her father abandoned the family when she was very young, and her mother was not regularly present to take care of her and her sister. Later on, she also lost a relationship with the only true love of her life. Her main goal now is to escape from her ever-present pain by doing whatever she has to do to obtain the money to stay high on drugs. She said she doesn’t want to feel anything. Do you think the root of her problem could be grief that she never faced?

Another person’s story was recently profiled on the television show ‘Hoarders.’ Hoarding has consumed this woman’s life, and her situation is desperate. When the interviewer asked her when this behavior started, she said, “Right after my two children died.” He then asked her how long ago that was, and she answered, “Eighteen years ago.” Could the root of her escalating problem be unresolved grief following the deaths of her children?

Examples of other significant losses that may be related to grief, but not readily identified with it are:

  • Job, career, financial resources, or your home
  • Loss of your dream
  • Relationship(s)
  • Health or mobility
  • Abuse, betrayal, or neglect

Since grief is the process we use to work through and release what we have lost—any meaningful loss sets us up for grieving. When we avoid grief, its effects linger indefinitely and hurt us until we cope with those feelings in a healthy way.

Problems arise when we fail to connect grief to our experience, and instead of facing it positively, we try to avoid the grief and pain by:

  • Medicating
  • Burying
  • Ignoring
  • Making excuses
  • And nearly any other kind of avoidance behavior you can think of

Unresolved grief is serious and harmful, and it will not just go away on its own. Unhealed wounds turn into obstacles, and they keep us from living healthy, satisfied lives.

Grief is not your enemy. If you choose, grief is the way to healing, renewal, and restoration. It’s the pathway to comfort and peace—and the road back to a sense of well-being.

I challenge you to examine yourself and consider whether you may be harboring unresolved grief in certain areas of your life.

Remember why grief is so important. How you’ve handled grief in your own life is directly related to your health and happiness.

© 2012 Judy Brizendine


For additional reading:
“The Only Way Out Is Through,” by Robin Amos Kahn (article appearing in The Huffington Post)


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4 Responses to “My Life Feels Out of Control — Is Grief a Factor?”

  1. Tom Zuba says:

    You are most certainly on to something. If we are alive … and if we have attached to something, be it a person, a thing, a job, our house, a dream, etc. … we will grieve when we loose that which we have attached to. I define grief as the internal, automatic response to loss. Everyone grieves. Most adults are in the continual process of grieving. Our path to healing is mourning. Mourning is identifying what is happening on the inside (our grief) and getting it up and out. Mourning is the external expression of grief. Most of us have forgotten how to mourn. We actually have to be given permission to mourn, and either retaught or reminded how to mourn.

    • admin says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Tom. I agree with your perspective that whenever we lose something we’re attached to, or that is meaningful to us, we are meant to grieve. The expression of that grief is our way of facing it and working through it. The challenge is to help people understand that perhaps they are suffering from a core issue that is tied to a loss they have not grieved. I think most of us grow up without any understanding of grief, grieving, mourning, etc. Then when we’re devastated by a loss, we don’t know where to go, what to do, what is normal, and what to expect. Often people do everything they can do to escape from the pain–and then end up creating an even more devastating situation that perpetuates itself. And, you’re right, we have to give ourselves permission to mourn. We must choose to face our grief.

      Thank you for the work you do to help people cope with their grief.

      Warm regards,

  2. Shreya says:

    This is so good. So many things here, if I tried to point them all out I would prttey much just repost your whole blog. This may be one of my favorite posts because I really think a lot of people don’t have a clue how to grieve or why it’s so important when you have lost. We end up so twisted around and mal-formed from trying to find ways to avoid feeling legitimate pain, to avoid the process of grieving. I know that until I talked with you and some others after experiencing deep loss for the first time I had NO idea how to grieve. So thanks for sharing!

    • admin says:

      Hi Shreya,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      I agree with you completely–many (if not most) people are unfamiliar with grief, what it is, how it works, why it’s important, or what to do to cope with grief and loss. Our society is expert at trying to find ways to avoid feeling pain. The only problem is that the pain doesn’t go away because the core issue is not addressed. All we do is cover up the pain for a while–but it keeps returning and we have to make a decision again whether to mask it or face it. A poet once said, “The cure for the pain IS the pain.” With grief, that statement is surely true.

      I’m glad you are looking for a positive way to work through your pain. That is the only way to healing.

      Bless you,