Grief is something that comes up in many of my sessions with clients. When many people hear the word grief, they immediately associate it with the profound sadness and loss that we experience after someone passing away. But many don't realize that there are other things that we grieve in our life and the sadness connected to it is always valid.
In spring of 2019, I was getting ready to wrap up my final year of grad school. I remember sitting in my therapist's office feeling really excited for my career to finally begin but also strangely feeling a lot of sadness. After unpacking this with her, we had realized that while I was very excited to be done with school and begin my career, I was grieving the student part of my identity. You see, up until that point I had been in school non-stop since pre-k. I hadn't known life outside of being a student and while I was very excited, I was also terrified. If I am being completely honest, the student part of my identity is still something that I miss sometimes. While we certainly experience grief when a loved one passes on, we can experience grief for many other things in life. And all of it can be painful. Here are a list of some of the other losses that we may grieve in our life:
Our younger self
Our younger self that didn't know any better
Where we thought that we would be in life by now
Who we thought we would be in life by now
A relationship that no longer exists
A missed opportunity
The way that things used to be
Something not working out the way that you thought it would
The ending of a previous chapter in your life
A former part of your identity
Grief isn't a bad thing. To experience grief means that we had loved. When we allow ourselves the space and the time to grieve, we will be able to move through it. Others do not have to understand your grief for it to be valid. Allow yourself the time and space to mourn your losses. When we let ourselves move through our grief, we can also create more space for joy and love in our lives.