Grief Is Supposed To Hurt

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When confronted by the loss of something or someone we’ve grown accustomed to we’ll experience painful feelings of grief unless the situation was highly aversive to us, in which case we might feel relieved or even ebullient.

But especially in the case of relationships it’s usually a mixed bag. Even if we feel mostly positive about someone there are some undesirable aspects of the situation and if even if we feel mostly negative about someone there are some desirable aspects of the situation.

This ambivalence can become problematic for our growth and happiness in that we’ve often made the objectively correct choice when we leave something or someone behind but in the face of this loss painful feelings of grief arise. So we go back to that something or someone, even though it might be in our best interests not to. We come up with all manner of excuse and rationalization to justify our backtracking but what’s really happening has less to do with the characteristics of the person or object we’re going back to and more to do with our desire to mitigate those painful, seemingly unbearable feelings of grief that have suddenly arisen in the wake of our newly changed circumstances.

This is why it can be really useful to remember that grief is supposed to hurt. And the desire to reduce the pain of grief is not a good reason in and of itself to go back to what you’ve left behind. Upon going back all of the same aversive aspects of the situation, the aspects that caused you to leave in the first place, are likely to surge back to the forefront.

When we have the courage to face grief head on and let ourselves feel what we’re feeling even though these feelings are painful and unwanted we give ourselves the chance to move through grief rather than run away from it. Our subsequent decisions will be more likely to represent a clearheaded analysis of what’s really best for us rather than a tunnel vision decision based upon making unwanted feelings disappear.