Finding the Courage to Grieve

by Derek O'Neill

Loss and death visits all of us. Grief comes, and then goes, only to arrive again. If we continue to treat grief as something to avoid we are not only fooling ourselves, but also hurting ourselves. If there is no acceptance, there is no healing. You cannot control how loss shows up. In our experience of death, we can wish for only peaceful endings of long lives within the circle of people we care about, but there is no immunity from sudden and traumatic events. Accepting this truth at times of happiness is even more valuable than realizing it when there is a loss.

Death is the most difficult loss to accept. Different cultures have practices and rituals. Seeing the body after death is a common tool to help the mind – that can often go into denial to self-protect from pain – and acknowledge the reality of the loss. Ceremonies, sacraments, and rites serve an important purpose for both individuals and communities, but even with available outlets, accepting...

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