Grief Isn't Just For Death - You Deserve The Grace To Properly Grieve Other Endings In Your Life

They say there are only two certainty's in life: death and taxes, both of which can cause you some serious grief. In addition, losing a loved one, whether it was a slow decline or a sudden passing, can cause intense sorrow, pain, and deep melancholy that can take some time to get over. Of course, those around you will totally understand if you're mired in grief after someone you love has died, but will the same level of care and understanding be given to you if the cause of grief isn't related to death?

Yes, we can experience intense grief outside of death. We can grieve the metaphorical deaths of relationships, outgrowing friends, leaving a city, losing a job, and also many health complications. However, do we offer ourselves the same grace, care, and understanding to these metaphorical deaths as we do to physical deaths? Turns out, we definitely should, because the effects of grief on our mental health are the same, no matter the cause. Here's how you can afford yourself some understanding, time, and grace to process grief, even when no one has died.

There are many causes of grief outside of death

The grief we experience when a romantic relationship ends or we lose a job, is comparable to the grief we experience when death takes a loved one. Clinical psychologist Dr. Tricia Wolanin told NBC News, "The process of dealing with a breakup is comparable to grief ... The person we are losing was [a big part of] our world and therefore has taken up so much of our mental and heart space." In addition, there is something called grief of a lost future, whereby you're grieving the future life you planned for yourself (i.e. marriage, kids, a home), which has now gone up in smoke. "That can be incredibly painful, and people don't really acknowledge that," shares Traci Bank Cohen, PsyD, via Goop. In fact, this kind of grief can also be experienced when losing a job with great prospects or experiencing pregnancy loss.  

On the other hand, anticipatory grief is where we begin the grieving process well before a death has occurred. "It's the experience of knowing that a change is coming, and starting to experience bereavement...," Allison Werner-Lin, a licensed clinical social worker, told Forbes Health. The impending loss of a pet, major medical procedures, such as amputation, organ transplant, or diagnoses of terminal illnesses can all trigger grief.

Coping with your grief in the same manner

Perhaps not all of these kinds of grief are well known, but you can care for them with the same grace. The stages of grief include ambivalence, numbness, denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance, among others. "Straggling emotions and memories may still bleed through," shared author and clinical psychologist, Carla Marie Manly via Women's Health. Therefore, it's important to partake in many self-care activities, like journaling, practicing self-awareness, getting enough sleep, and listening to your needs. 

In addition, transitional objects may help with the grieving process. Whether it be a teddy bear given to you by a late grandparent, a gift from an ex, or your favorite childhood blankie, these objects can help with the emotional fallout from moving to a new country, leaving a relationship, or dealing with loss. 

With that said, don't feel silly to still be clutching that teddy bear well into adulthood. After all, 25% of women bring these objects when they go off to college to help cope with such anxious changes in their lives, as per The New York Times. The big takeaway here is — don't judge yourself for why you're grieving, just focus on giving yourself the grace, coping mechanisms, and time to heal.