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The Three Sources of Grief

November 4, 2009

Once again I have stayed up way past my bedtime, enjoying my new hobby of cruising the blog  sites.  I should know better by now.  When it’s late, I’m tired, things always look very bleak. 

The older I get, I find I am dealing with grief more and more.  I am also beginning to understand how really odd and quirky this grief thing is.  As I got to thinking about it, I decided to make a list of the causes for grief.  I know that somewhere out there, someone else has all ready got this all figured out.  Not me!  So, here is my self-help, home spun way of sorting it all out.

The Surprising Sources of Grief

1.The most obvious is that grief can be the result of an actual physical death of a loved one.  I need not say more.

2. Grief can come from the loss of a dream.  To me, this is the most complicated.  There will be no formal wakes, no flowers sent, nothing to bury, no headstone to visit.  To my mind, this makes the loss harder to deal with.  Others are more often to not recognize that you’ve had a “REAL” loss, therefore no support, or kinds words, and sometimes no acknowledgement of the loss at all.


A.  The birth of a child with a disability.  I will never forgive myself for my lack of understanding and sympathy for my cousin when she gave birth to a daughter with Down’s Syndrome.  I just thought about all the platitudes I had heard before about Down’s.  “She” will be a blessing in your life.  “She”  is a gift from God. ” She”  will be able to do lots of things , her outcome is not without hope.  “She”  will shine with a pure and simple joy for life.  Yes, those things may be true, but now I know – what a crock!  What was I thinking!  I wasn’t.  It was many years later, that I learned of how my poor cousin felt cut off, would cry for hours, how the doctors wouldn’t tell her at first, how no one seemed to understand what she was going thru.  It was a very difficult time for her.  She was experiencing the death of the daughter she thought she was going to have. The dream of  what she thought her daughter would be.   Why couldn’t I see that?  Why wasn’t I there  for her?  My cousin also experiences that same death every time her daughter does not meet the same milestones that other girls her age do.  She is continually experiencing deaths at every birthday.  Of course she loves her daughter.  Of course she can hardly think of life without her in it.  But there are those days that she doesn’t.  There are many days she mourns for the daughter that will never be.

B.  I just came across a wonderful site that talks about the grief that comes with a failed adoption.  Honestly, I had just never really thought about it.  My husband and I never had any intention of adopting an infant.  I did not know anyone personally who had gone that route.  But when I came across this site, I was filled with so much sorrow for this couple that it made my heart weep.  They have put together a free booklet about how to deal with this type of loss.  It’s free and I highly recommend it to anyone who is dealing with grief .  It is well written and most of it can be helpful and useful to anyone experiencing grief of any kind.  Go to     They also spoke of another site:    I hope you find this helpful.  Trust me, we all deal with grief sometime!

C. The loss of a pregnancy, the whispered about, rarely talked about, miscarriage.  Since to some, it never was really a “baby”, most people just think you’ll move on quickly.   Usually most miscarriages happen very early.  So a lot of people think, well, you really weren’t pregnant very long, how bad can it be?  It’s not like you lost a baby or anything.  Oh really?  Just ask any woman or couple who has experienced this pain.  It was real, it was a baby, it was a child that never even got a chance!  Then, with some miscarriages, there comes the guilt that maybe it was for the best.  How could you be relieved that your baby died?  What kind of person could you be to even think that?  Or there can be the self-inflicted guilt of what did I do wrong?  Why me, why my child?  I must have done something wrong to cause this.  And of course, the doctors are rarely any help.  No, I’m sorry, these things just happen.  No, we really don’t have any answers for you.  This happens to many women.  Sorry doc, still not helpful.  but knowing about grief and how to deal, IS!

3. The grief that comes with a life changing event.


A.  Probably the most odd and hard to recognize grief is the one that comes with any life changing event.  The really weird thing is that this change can be a positive change or a negative change.  The loss of a job, obvious grief even if you hated the job anyway.  A promotion at your job.  I can hear you saying, what grief?  You just got a promotion, that is a good thing!  But when you have a life changing event, it is surprising that you will go thru the same stages.  I know you’ve heard the old adage, change is difficult and uncomfortable.  Yes, because you are experiencing a type of grief for what was.  Another example, when one has a baby, or adopts a child, their will be grief.  Anyone heard of post-partum  depression ?  Yes, it even happens when a child is adopted.  Yes, this is a happy event, one you wanted.  Yet, there will be a part of you grieving for who you were, and are no longer.  I think you get the idea.

Yes, grief is a tricky monster that seems to lurk at every turn.  The good news is that grief works best in the dark.  So put it out there, look it in the face, acknowledge it, get someone to listen to you and share with them.  It is my hope that it will make you stronger , wiser, more compassionate and aware of the grief that others may be feeling and not even aware of .  Knowledge is power, use it! Pass it on:)

One Comment leave one →
  1. jane mccurdy permalink
    November 23, 2009 4:23 am

    Hey cousin,
    Yes I am the one with the daughter with down syndrome. It was very difficult at first but I never felt you weren’t there for me. You have always been there for me.
    At this age I have learned that we all have our own trials to deal with. You certainly have been through some tough ones to become a mother.
    And the struggles and pain we deal with can often turn in to our most precious blessings. Our daughter is 18 today and I can’t even imagine life without her. She brings us all so much joy on a daily basis. She has an amazing sense of humor and we are all such better people for having her in our lives.

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