The Work of Grief

Finding yourself in grief is inevitable. You may have had a loss in your private life. You, your colleagues and friends may have had an event in your work or community life that triggers a grief response. Change is constant and loss accompanies change. None of us is immune, none of us can avoid loss either individually or collectively. Most of us, when we are in genuine contact with ourselves, have an awareness that we are in different stages of grief simultaneously, here and now, about a variety of losses.

It would be extremely valuable if grief were a topic that was raised to be discussed…in yourself, your partnerships, your families, your community, your workplace, your congregation. We could support one another better, be in better genuine contact with each other if we dared to understand more about grief, talk about it more openly, and recognize that the work of grief is critical to the ability to heal…individually and collectively. The grief cycle, by another name, is the healing cycle.

During the grief cycle, we are likely to experience shock, anger, denial, mixed in with despair and deep sorrow. The emotions can feel overwhelming. At such times, people often say the ‘wrong’ things. They may not be able to put emotions into words. The grief is then magnified even more when the responses of other people become judgmental. If we were better equipped to talk about grief and to be in genuine contact with people who are grieving in our private and professional lives, people would feel more supported and be able to move on in their grief work experiencing memories, acceptance that what once was is no more, and letting go of attachment….the steps necessary for getting ready to  move on.

The work of grief is also part of the cycle of transformation. Individually and collectively, when we allow the work of grief to flow, we shift, sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. We are no longer exactly the same as we were before the loss and the work of grief. This is an enormous challenge for the person or group of people going through grief work. Others expect them to be the same ‘once they have finished grieving’. They themselves may have expected to be the same. They are not. Something has shifted, transformation may be underway. Awareness, understanding and support is needed for the newly emerging state…of the individual and of the collective.

Are you aware of the work of grief? Do you discuss grief work with family, friends and colleagues…and the children in your life? How are you feeling right now as you contemplate that the work of grief results in a shift, a transformation…and that the individual or collective, having experienced the work of grief, is not the same as they were before ‘the loss’?

In our Genuine Contact way of living and working, we pay attention to grief work, and the place of grief work in transformation.

Birgitt Williams
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Birgitt Williams is an international management and organizational solutions consultant, author, meeting facilitator, teacher, keynote speaker and executive coach. Her business focus is to create inspiring work environments that are highly effective in achieving their purpose and fulfilling their vision.

  1. Betty Silver

    What a beautiful description of the grief cycle and how it is really the healing cycle. While I had been through the grief cycle training with you in the past, this blog really helped me understand it a different more enlightened way. I am now at a different stage and journey of understanding your words more deeply. I agree that if we felt comfortable discussing grief more openly with those we love, work with and interact with that our lives would be more supported. This is beautifully written. Thank you for focusing on this in your blog this week.

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