Radical Grieving: The Pain of Loss

There is probably no greater pain of separation than that which we feel at the death of a loved one.  We suffer it even more intensely if the death itself is untimely, unexpected or tragic.  It is not always about losing people either.  The death of a pet can be equally traumatic for some people.

Not that we don’t suffer grief over other things as well, of course, like the loss of a job, a house, a relationship, a preferred way life, our freedom (as when imprisoned), and so on.  Nevertheless, while the process of dealing with grief is more or less the same no matter what the loss is, it surely remains true that the pain we feel over the death of a loved one is likely to be the most intense form of grief we are ever likely to feel. 

While most of us experience this form of separation pain at some time in our lives, we do not, in western cultures at least, allow ourselves to grieve to the extent that we might, given the intensity of the suffering that a death can cause.  Whereas in other cultures people observe a number of quite elaborate rituals and set aside quite long periods of time for grieving, we are expected to suppress the pain, be over it in a few days and back at work as soon as possible. 

It is likely, therefore, that most people could revisit their loss with a view to completing the grieving process and find it most beneficial.  This is especially true if some forgiveness is required as well, which is often the case.  Again, it is typical of our attitude towards death to always think that it shouldn’t have happened or when it does, someone must have failed or was to blame for it in some way. 

This is why doctors in America have to pay enormous sums of money for insurance against being sued when someone in their care dies, and why the cost of medical care in the last few months of life accounts for around 85% of all medical costs.  Families insist that the doctors do everything possible to keep the person alive, no matter the cost and no matter how little quality of life will remain.  Anything but death.  And when it does occur, they want to blame someone and hold them responsible for the pain.

It is also not uncommon to make the person who died responsible for the pain.  Death is the ultimate abandonment, and we feel it as such.  Children who lose a parent often feel it as abandonment and can never forgive the parent for dying and leaving them. 

This will naturally vary according to the circumstances of the death.  For example, if your mother died peacefully at aged 95 after a long and happy life and was starting to get ill, your grief will be of a different order than if she died relatively young having been killed by a hit-and-run driver.  Parents who lose a child suffer a lot because for a child to pre-decease its own parents seems out of the natural order of things.

So what does Radical Grieving, as one of the Radical Living, ‘Tipping Method’ Strategies, have to offer that is different?  Well, in all the previous lessons in our different monthly series we have encouraged you to become open to the idea that everything that happens is all part of the divine plan.  So, why not death?  We will take a look at it from this angle next week.



PS, If you are going to be in the LA area tomorrow October 12th, catch the SACRED JOURNEY OF THE HEART movie at the LA Femme International Film Festival at 6 pm in the Davidson/Valentini Theatre, 1125 N McCadden Place, Los Angeles 90038.

To find out how I got involved in the movie, see the video here: Ronna Prince Before and After 

For information on the festival, please visit www.lafemme.org

One thought on “Radical Grieving: The Pain of Loss

  1. margie ulbrick

    Our Western culture generally fights death as if it is not meant to happen unless someone is as you describe, elderly and having lived a good rich life. However, your point Colin seems to be that our whole paradigm is incorrect and that the way we view death needs shifting. A young girl in my daughters year level at school took her own life 2 days ago and we are all reeling from the shock. But to consider the possibility that this was a choice she made on a soul level changes things considerably. Though still a cause for great sadness it is possible to consider that there is a divine order to things of which we have no understanding nor the possibility of ever comprehending yet a move towards acceptance becomes a real potentiality. The possibility that pain is transformative also arises. Thanks for your work! Margie

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