What is Grief?


A loss experience, such as death, divorce or separation, can be classified as a crisis that propels us into the grief process. The grief experience involves the entire person. It is emotional, physical and spiritual. Grief happens inside, where feelings live. We cannot think about grief, we can only feel it.

With each significant loss, the grief process must be allowed to happen. When it is ignored or “buried within”, these emotions remain “unresolved grief” and can have a destructive effect on one’s quality of life.

For children to survive emotionally from a death or divorce in the family, they need sufficient time to mourn their loss. Young children do not even possess the vocabulary to put into words the intense hurt that they are feeling. Adolescents too, have a difficult time grappling with the loss because it is coupled with the complicated developmental changes of their age.

Grieving youth need caring adults to listen and support them while they express their feelings, sort through their confusions and begin the healing process towards acceptance. Participating in a support group with others experiencing the same struggles and feelings can also be beneficial. During these times, even the most caring of parents are often too immersed in their own pain to be able to respond very well. Consequently, children and adolescents need to find other adults to assist them during this healing process.

— excerpted with permission from “Compassionate Companion” by Suzy Marta