Thinking about loss and grief, I have three postulates:
- If I feel grief, I must have lost - or I'm preparing to lose - something that matters to me.
- If I lose something that matters to me, I can expect to feel grief.
- In general, the more the thing or person matters to me, the greater my grief after loss.
When grieving, stopping to reflect on how much the lost thing or person mattered may help.
Example 1: "I feel terrible about losing my pearl necklace. How much did it matter to me? It was expensive and I enjoyed wearing it, so it is a real loss. But it's a thing, with no special meaning. When thinking about what matters to me in life, that necklace mattered only a little."
Example 2: "I feel terrible about losing my pearl necklace. How much did it matter to me? It was costume jewelry -- a thing, and not my health or a loved one. But it was my mother's. Wearing it helped me feel her love. Now I've lost that meaningful connection."
In the first example, the answer to "How much did it matter to me?" may help the person let go of grief over a bauble. In the second scenario, the answer may help the person honor painful grief over an heirloom.
In my next post I'll offer a few ideas about healing grief that are new to me, thanks to this discussion.