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Why is Grief So Painful?

When I typed in “Grief” in to google I noticed that “Why is grief so painful?” came up as one of the most common searched questions regarding grief and loss. Honestly, my first silly response to my personal experience with grief was, “DUH, my father who I love and miss is GONE. Of course it hurts.” But, then I took a step back to think deeper as to really WHY. I found a few points via some more searching the internet that helped answer “why is grief so painful?".

Grief is complex, it is strange, it is confusing and it is an emotional experience that comes from losing someone or something in our life, as we know. Often Grief is mixed in with the biological loss and it can also be the end of a living relationship, a job, a pet or any other “loss” of something in our lives.

Why is Grief so painful? End of the day, it’s unique to YOU and not something this little blog can fully answer but here are some thoughts to consider and I'd love to hear why grief is so painful to you.

  1. Your routine and, perhaps, self-identity is disrupted. When you lose someone or something the ‘normality’ of our life that perhaps we’ve become so habitual with is gone. We find ourselves in a new normal and maybe even can forget who we are because we identified for so long with this person that is gone or this thing that is gone. Adjusting to life without what we’re grieving is a lot to handle. And, however you’re feeling just know that it’s okay. I felt different, responded different and handled things differently than my sisters did when we lost the same father. And, that’s ok. We all grieve differently. What works for me in any emotional chaos, whether loss or anything else, is to FEEL it and go through the storm. Not around it. It hurts. It stinks. But, there is the other side to it all. And, even when you get to the other side you never forget the storm.

  2. Regret, lack of closure or unfinished business. On DEAD Talks Podcast I’ve had conversations over and over about the feeling of regret or just reflecting back on things they wish they did, or said or finished before their loved one passed. That feeling of unfinished business or regret after Grief is so human. This is just another powerful reason why grief is so painful. Again, I don’t know what I’m saying and at the end of the day all we can do is move forward learning from the past and understand that we are HUMAN. And, to take it easy on yourself because hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to look back on things and point out things we wish we did better. That’s okay, too.

  3. No new memories. This one hits hard for me having lost my father at 12 years old. The understanding that there’s no future with my father. There are no new memories to be had. And, that to me is why Grief is so painful. Well, one of the many reasons. When someone close to us dies it only makes sense we grieve the loss of future possibilities. We will never experience together all the things we thought would happen. And, that is a hard one to accept. And, it’s okay, again, to feel whatever you feel. But, it’s up to you to see it in a different light and evolve around this grief feeling. But, boy does it suck.

  4. The physical and mental reaction to Grief is real. I am not qualified enough to go into detail of how Grief effects the brain and the body. I just know it does. It scrambles so much in the brain as if you can feel and think like a different person. People around you may notice it even more than you do. And can lead to physical challenges whether it be sleeping, appetite, memory and plenty more. My only comment is that it all seems quite common from the people I have spoke that have shared their experiences with Grief in their life. Just know there is a way to move through it and heal.

This is just a tidbit of thoughts as to why I think Grief is so painful. Again, my sarcastic brain goes “DUH” of course it’s painful yet haven’t considered some of the things I just wrote about in depth. It’s important to me to remember how individual a grief experience can be. And, to remind myself not to compare my experience to others that are in my life or even others that have lost in their lives. My process is my process and my timeline is my timeline. And, your process is your process and your timeline is your timeline. I believe grieving just takes going through it, feeling it, trusting yourself and believing you’ll come out. Reading words like this when you’re in it can be frustrating because it might not make sense. I’m 20+ years without my father so I’m in a different place. Took me a while and a lot of ever-changing thoughts to be where I’m at. And, I’m still not done. Grief, I’m not sure, is ever done.

To listen to episodes of my grief podcast and death podcast please visit this link for all of our socials that includes our Instagram, TikTok, FaceBook, YouTube, Spotify Podcast, Apple Podcast + other podcast platforms:

Let me know what you think and if you'd like a little more about your personal grief journey.

- David


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