Why Do We Grieve?

Why Do We Grieve, Reasons for Bereavement

When a loved one passes from our lives, the most common question we hear (both from ourselves and from those around us) involves the word “why”. In the early days, it’s part of “why did this happen?” And as we settle in to our grief, it becomes part of “why does it hurt so much?” It’s possible the question then changes to the more philosophical inquiry, “why do we grieve?”

Grief is a natural part of our lives, and affects all aspects of our existence. It can cause us physical pain; and yet bring us to a deeper understanding of the true value and meaning of life. Grief can be very hard work; taking significant amounts of energy, it is a major force for change in our lives. We grieve naturally; which to us means it is a natural way for us to grow stronger and more resilient. But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s a pleasant path to take; no one chooses bereavement–it chooses us.

Two Reasons Why We Grieve

Loss of any kind–whether it’s the loss of a treasured piece of jewelry; the end of a marriage or much-needed job–especially the death of a loved one, leaves a hole in our lives. One that we often don’t know how to fill; or even if we want to be made whole again. “To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?” In short, when we grieve, we hold tightly to our memories; which helps us to fill the hole, or the ‘gap’ as I call it. But it doesn’t put an end to our distress. And there are two sound reasons for the anguish we know as grief.

First we grieve simply because we loved. This someone special played an integral role in our life, and we treasured their presence. It takes courage to love a person deeply, because there’s a small part of us that knows our time here is finite; loss is an inevitable aspect of all human relationships. And it takes courage to grieve, when the loss occurs.

Second, we grieve for ourselves. Because we have been painfully deprived of someone we love dearly, someone we very much need; our world has been rocked to the core. It makes sense that time would be spent grieving for ourselves.  After all, the family member we’ve lost is beyond all suffering; we may even see them now dwelling in a far better place. But for those left behind, the suffering has only begun. There’s every reason to grieve, for the life we knew; the life we enjoyed before the passing of our loved one, is over.

Why is Grief so Hard?

In short, our grief is made more difficult by fear and insecurity. Grief is a complex set of emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual reactions to loss; and amid this complexity, there’s fear. It may come from the generalized sense of disorientation which occurs in the very early days after loss. Picture the experience of grief as an amusement park House of Mirrors. With its maze-like corridors and distorted mirrors; just a few minutes in such a place can leave one feeling completely lost and bewildered. Which way to turn? We spin and turn, looking for the right path–the path back to normalcy–and naturally feel fear. It may also be the result of insecurity. The solid ground underneath our life is crumbling, and it feels there’s nothing to hold on to. Our ordered life has turned to disorder, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

And then there are the labors of grieving. What counselors call “grief work” involves finding ways to put our loss in perspective and then weaving the loss (and what we’ve learned from the experience) into the tapestry which is our life. Again asking you to use your imagination; see grief work as a journey. Not along some well-trodden path, no; in this, we cannot follow someone else’s path. Each of us must become a trailblazer; removing obstacles, and enduring harsh conditions along the way.

We leave our old life; and for a time we wander; forging a path in the gap between the life now gone, and the new one we have yet to create. This is a time of struggle and compromise, where we repeatedly find ourselves taking one step forward and then two steps back. It’s a time (of unforeseeable duration) when our thinking isn’t always clear; instead it is clouded by the strong emotions–and sometimes very real physical symptoms–of bereavement. Finally, we enter the third phase of the grief journey: that time of experimentation and re-creation.  It’s a time when we try things on, so to speak; slipping slowly and hesitantly into a new reality. In a word, grief is “transformative”; it changes you forever. And transformation is very hard work, indeed.

Loss and Bereavement Impacts Us All

And it affects us all differently. It’s easy to see how the answer to the question “Why do we grieve?” is both complicated and very specific to each of us; yet (as you’ve seen) there are two reasons why we grieve: because we loved deeply, and because life as we’d known it to be is over. But knowing that doesn’t always help us endure along the path. If you are grieving the death of a beloved family member and feel the need for additional grief support, please call (248) 508-0099.


If You Love Them, Set Them Free.

She can feel you pulling away. 

With every conversation, you grow a little distant.

She can feel you pulling away.

There is time lingering in your responses.

She can feel you pulling away.

You don’t look at her the way you used to.

She can feel you pulling away.

Because suddenly this person she knew better than anyone is becoming a stranger before her eyes.

She never knew until now what it’s like to look at something and feel it so close but so far.

Where you once talked every day, she finds herself staring at her phone wondering. 

When will I hear from you?

What’s going on?

Has something suddenly changed?

She knows the answer is yes but she can’t put her finger on what it is exactly.

She can feel you pulling away.

Because every time you are together, it feels like you are miles apart.

And every time she reaches for you in the dark, you turn over the other way.

She can feel you pulling away.

Because every gesture doesn’t feel genuine anymore.

But rather something expected because you did it before.

It’s like the flame is slowly dying out and with every attempt to light it more, the wick of the candle isn’t catching.

It’s like staring at an hour glass and time is running out and she doesn’t know what to do to push pause and fix it.

She can feel you pulling away.

Because when she looks into your eyes she’s wondering who is in your mind.

All she knows is it doesn’t feel like it’s her anymore.

She can feel you pulling away.

Because she says “I love you” not with confidence, but wondering if she’ll hear it back.

She can feel you pulling away.

Because every time she asks how are you, what she’s really saying is how are we?

But she’s too afraid to find out the truth it’s over.

She can feel you pulling away. 

Because with every goodbye she doesn’t want to leave, fearing there won’t be another hello.

So she holds you a little tighter.

She can feel you pulling away.

But instead of trying to fix it, she’s just learning to value the moment and time you do have.

Overcome with the grief of how you even got here? 

What if there’s no way to fix this?

What if your part of each other’s story is just over?

She can feel you pulling away.

And she won’t say goodbye until she has to.

Until she is holding back tears not telling you to stay.

But she wants more than anything for the feelings to suddenly change.

Hoping that this could feel new again like it used to.

Love to be found that has been lost for a while.

But neither of you have come to terms with it.

She can feel you pulling away.

But she’ll wait for that moment.

Where silence screams.

And I love you doesn’t hold the weight that it used it.

And she’ll let you go without a chase.

Because sometimes the best thing you can do for someone you love…

…Is simply let them go.

8 Ways To Help Someone Through Depression.

A depressed brain isn’t just low levels of serotonin or a chemical imbalance. There is a little bit more to what happens to the brain when it is depressed. The connection between certain cells influences someone’s mood. But if you were to look at two brains, one that is depressed and one that isn’t, one thing you would notice is a portion of the brain called the hippocampus which seems to be smaller than average. This area of the brain influences memories and emotions. As this part of the brain gets smaller, neurons and transmitters begin to disappear.

When it comes to your gene pool there is a portion of it called the serotonin transporter gene, the variation within the gene causes people to become vulnerable and depressed. You have two copies of these genes, one from both parents. While each gene varies in size either short or long, a study found that when someones is short they are inclined to have depression more than the average person.

So now that you understand a little bit about the science behind a depressed brain, the trick now is how do you help someone get through depression when there’s science you can’t control?

Because it isn’t as simple as just feeling better or shaking it off, the task is to naturally increase someone’s neurons and transmitters.

To do that, emotional support is huge here and walking with these people through what many consider dark days can help.

Recently I was going through a pretty tough time. Understanding myself, the research I’ve done about the subject matter and tracking my moods over a long period of time, it seemed very clear what I was experiencing was seasonal depression. While most experience seasonal depression in the winter, I was of the opposite spectrum along with the 4-6% of the population to feel this in the summer.

While I was out partying and drinking and smiling at clubs, like many 25-year-olds my age. I would think about how well I was at faking it and how no one but my close friends knew.

All the symptoms were there. Loss of appetite. Weight loss. Loss of interest. Hopelessness. Chronically exhausted no matter how much I slept. Pulling away from people I cared about.

As someone who doesn’t like allowing mental health to influence my every day, it was hard walking into work some days and not caring or not wanting to be there when every day before that I looked forward to what I was doing. 

As someone who really doesn’t believe in medication or altering any part of my brain regardless of it being different than others, I had always been able to pull myself out of these things. But I found myself popping pills walking around like a zombie and it made my depression 10X worse.

As someone who appreciates and values cognitive therapy, I didn’t want that for myself. But there I was in a waiting room once a week, talking about things I didn’t want to.

But it was in those weeks a select few people helped me out of it. In was in those few weeks when I truly needed help a select few rose to the occasion.

1. Understand the depressed version of themselves isn’t really them.

I remember saying things that just didn’t sound like me. Rereading messages now and realizing how unfamiliar I was. I looked the same, sounded the same, but nothing about who I was in that time was me.

Understanding someone on their worst day isn’t an accurate depiction of who they actually are. Understand that along with the lies they are telling you, there are 100 more things they are saying to themselves that aren’t true, but depression is trying to drag them deeper into believing it.

2. Listen when they want to talk.

There will come a point where even if they can’t make sense of the things they are feeling, they’ll explain it to you if you ask. And sometimes there aren’t answers to these questions but there is a comfort in knowing they aren’t alone in it.

3. Support them when they ask for help.

Asking for help is the hardest part about coming to terms with depression. When you get to that point of finally finding the courage to walk into someone’s office or call a doctor, at this point you’re trembling and scared and uncertain. What is familiar to you is staying in bed enduring this pain, what is unfamiliar is confronting it head on.

4. Praise them even though they don’t believe it.

If depression had and actual voice it would sound something like:

“You are worthless.” 

“You aren’t good enough.”

“You aren’t pretty enough.”

You aren’t smart enough.”

“You will fail.”

Counter all of that. To build someone up who is knocking themselves down is not an easy task but it’s one of the best things you can do.

5. Don’t take it personally when they cancel.

Sometimes they just don’t have the energy to do average tasks. They don’t have the energy to make it out on a Friday night. And maybe they shouldn’t be alone with their thoughts but being out won’t make them escape that either. To be in a crowd full of people and feel lonely is a worse feeling than staring at your ceiling and wanting to just go to sleep.

6. Keep in touch with them.

It was a text message of how are you? 

It was a tag that added just a little bit of hope to everything that felt hopeless within me.

It was a call once a week.

It saved me from myself. 

Because sometimes someone with depression won’t tell you, I appreciate you. I value you. Instead, they will count their blessing that you exist and love them while they are still learning to love themselves.

And something so simple does help.

7. Talk about daily goals.

As someone who is highly motivated, it was really hard to just lay in bed for long periods of time. It was really hard to not care about taking care of myself. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally.

And the goals weren’t great accomplishments I was used to. It was simple things.

“Did you eat today?” That doesn’t seem like something to be proud of but when basic necessities don’t even compare to the pain you are feeling inside, it’s not easy.

“Did you sleep through the night?”

But the best thing you can do is congratulate the small battles.

8. Tell them, “I’m here.”

Two words are all it takes sometimes. 

Emotional Abuse.

Physical abuse is something obvious. There’s concrete evidence that there is an issue and the relationship is an unhealthy one.

But emotional abuse takes on a different form. It isn’t so obvious and when you’ve endured a relationship like this for a long enough period of time, you don’t even realize.

You begin to value the good days and good moments failing to address the bad ones. Because when someone loses their shit but is very good at blaming you and playing the victim, it’s that manipulation that makes you think this is okay.

1. They constantly put you down.

Emotionally abusive partners tend to build themselves up by knocking those around them down. They never want someone to outshine them or do better so they may never praise your accomplishments no matter how great they may be and in your mind, you’ll always think you are falling short of their expectations.

2. They say things jokingly but they aren’t kidding.

There is a little bit of truth behind every “just kidding” and when something rolls of their acid tongue, you know they aren’t joking.

3. They tell you you’re overly sensitive.

Emotionally abusive people gravitate towards those who they can manipulate and walk all over. And a common trait is someone being sensitive. But instead of taking your feelings into consideration, they blame you. Because you are always the problem.

4. It’s all about control.

Emotionally abusive partners lack control in other parts of their life so they try and take it out on someone they can control. They like knowing everything. They like bossing you around. And the moment you try and stick up for yourself or defend yourself, they lash out because you are trying to take away their control.

5. They threaten you.

If you don’t do what they tell you to, they threaten to take things away from you. This is just another way they control you.

6. They are the first to correct your mistakes but will never own up to their own.

When you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, you’re always going to have that feeling like you are walking on eggshells or someone is breathing down your back. Every mistake you make, gets called out. Yet, you’d never think to do the same if the tables were turned.

7. You struggle to make decisions on your own.

When someone is constantly controlling you and telling you what to do and when to do it, you become indecisive about making any choice of your own, that you freeze. And it can vary from really basic things to big life events, you ask other people’s opinions of.

8. They constantly point out your flaws.

It’s hard to build yourself up and have confidence when someone is constantly knocking you down. You begin to hear their voice in everything. You look in the mirror and you are convinced you’d be happier if you didn’t have that flaw.

9. They struggle to apologize.

While apologies do come, it’s hard for them to express it. It’s hard for them to admit they are wrong. But they do have charm to them which allows to the abusive cycle to continue.

10. They pull away or leave.

They are the first to cause a scene and make nothing into something. Either they will give you the silent treatment to try and get your attention or make you feel bad for them, or they’ll just be overly dramatic and leave in hopes you beg them to come back. The need to feel wanted and needed is what their goal is and to be able to control this narrative is what motivates them most.

11. They emotionally shut down.

While sometimes they are loving and caring, other times they are cold and distant. Their ability to shut down emotions and appear heartless makes having a relationship with them difficult because you just want them to be the good version of who they are all the time, but you can’t love half of one person without addressing who they are as a whole.

Emotionally abusive relationships are difficult because when you’ve been in one long enough, your standards are suddenly very shifted and you fail to even know what a real relationship might look like. And when you’re presented with one, all of it is unfamiliar. 

I’m Afraid.

I’m afraid I’ll always be looking into someone else’s eyes looking for you there. Because maybe then I’d find myself again. I’m afraid to stare too long into the past clinging to what will never be the future.

I’m afraid to say we’re fine if ever you ask because us not being together, will never be fine.

I’m afraid I’ll always look at you and see the next fifty years that I know might never be. 

I’m afraid no one will ever know me the way you do. Or take the time to want to learn.

You learned about every curve and every edge. Every word and what I really meant.

Every flaw that made me who I was. Every insecurity you turned into confidence.

All about my past, never thinking you’d become it when I was so confident in a future that was us.

I’m afraid no one will ever watch me as closely as you do.

No one will ever touch me as gently as you did.

The truth is, you’ve always been the one to hold me without touch.

When people ask about lost love, it’s always been you.

But I’m afraid that this lost love wasn’t something that was ever actually found. 

I’m afraid to discover it was all a figment of my imagination.

I’m afraid of my wedding day, if it isn’t you standing beside me.

I’m afraid of saying I do, and you’re the one I’m thinking of.

I’m afraid to settle in a love that is comfortable and safe.

When your love was the one robbing me of my sleep.

You were always the risk I was willing to take, no matter the stakes. 

You were always the one I believed in, even when I had no reason to.

You were always the one I was willing to take a bet on, even when everyone else including you told me not to.

The blind faith I had in you and the hope I clung to, the hope I still cling to, because maybe it’ll be us at the end of all of this.

I hate it when I say “I love you” because what I actually hear is, “I don’t love you enough to do anything.”

I’ve learned to not trust three words I used to value so deeply.

I’m afraid I’ll always be your best-kept secret. Your guilty pleasure. Your 5-minute cigarette break when you need to take that little hit. The thing you only ever want in small doses. And I’m over here semi-addicted to someone who will never need me as much as I want and need them.

I’m afraid of your wedding day, watching someone else get the life I always envisioned. 

Watching someone else get the love I pined so long for.

Watching someone else get the happy ending we used to say would be ours.

It was the love I deserved.

The love I never gave up on.

The love that took all of me.

And while you fumbled through all the white lies, I was the fool for believing it. The truth is, I didn’t know it was an act and I was playing the role of the person I thought you needed thinking that would be enough. But it wasn’t just an audience you fooled.

I’m afraid I’ll never truly be over you.

I’m afraid you’ll always be that story I didn’t want to end.

Acceptance comes with time, but I don’t look at it as a lapse in your judgment or a loss to you.

The truth is, I look at my reflection wondering why I’m not enough.

Because when someone takes the time to get to know you to the core of who you really are and they still don’t choose you, it’s you yourself you wonder about.

I’m afraid I’ll always love you.

I’m afraid you’ll be this love on a pedestal I compare to every other.

I’m afraid I’ll always live with this regret I can’t let go of.

And the what ifs and the maybe will be what haunts me at night.

I’m afraid your ghost will always be what wakes me.

And your skeleton in my closet takes up so much room there isn’t space for anything else.

I’m afraid I should have let go sooner. 

But I can’t ever seem to.

I can’t ever walk away because with one whisper of my name, you’re the one I’ll always come back to.

I’m afraid I’m waiting on a fantasy that will never be my reality.

But most of all, I’m afraid of you.

And us.

Because part of me still thinks we have a shot at this.

I think I’ll always believe in us until I see you with a ring.

And if it isn’t me you ask a four letter question to, maybe then I’ll fall to my knees and it’ll hit me that it ‘s over. 

I’m Done.

I’m done holding the door open for people and wondering what I’ve done wrong instead of realizing it’s their loss.

I’m done trying to give people a reason to stay when in reality, I shouldn’t want someone who doesn’t want to be here.

I’m done investing time and energy into people who just don’t care.

I’m done picking myself apart for people who only ever took everything I had to give and left once they realized I didn’t have more in me.

I’m done saying sorry to people who should be the one apologizing.

I’m done letting guilt eat away at me when I shouldn’t

I’m done fixating upon my flaws and trying to win people over when there are so many people who wouldn’t like me if I changed.

I’m done pretending to be someone I’m not simply to fit the mold of their expectations. 

I’m done trying so hard for people who care so little.

I’m done waiting for people to come back when they shouldn’t have left in the first place.

I’m done staying up late at night and letting my past haunt me.

I’m done looking at pictures with regret when it’s them who should be feeling these things so heavily. 

I’m done trying to find reasons why.

I’m slowly starting to accept maybe my destiny isn’t attached to people who don’t want to be here. 

Maybe what I first think of as a loss is truly a gain in my life because if I’m losing someone who doesn’t care about making an effort to stay, maybe someone who truly wants a spot in my life will get it.

I’m slowly starting to accept destiny has a little more to do with it than anything.

And as much as I’d love to think I have control of my life, I’m slowly accepting there are factors that will never be within my control.

I’m done looking for an explanation or some grand closure when someone leaves. 

The truth is, now I’m at a point that if you don’t want to be here, I’m not going to ask you to stay.

I’m not going to try and prove that I deserve you in my life.

I’m not going to try so hard. Because relationships aren’t supposed to be so difficult.

The easy relationships aren’t with the people who come and go like I have some revolving door policy.

The truth is, if you want to be in my life you will always have a place.

You will always find me in the middle meeting you halfway.

But I’m slowly starting to realize those people I value more than myself, the people I try a little too hard for, the people I fear losing are usually the ones to go first.

I’m slowly starting to learn maybe it isn’t about letting go. Maybe it’s just about learning who isn’t holding onto me as tightly as I am them.