Dear Ted: Loss is change, grief is the bridge


Dear Ted:

Over the last year, there have been many changes in my life. Some of them have been really exciting and good for me while others have been sad. I am surprised how both types of changes have resulted in many emotions within my internal world. I always thought of grief as something sad from a loss like death, but I'm starting to think that grief is anything in our life. Would you agree? Thanks, Transitioning

Dear Transitioning:

I believe you have stumbled upon a great revelation that I think about often in working with grief. Loss derives from many different events in our life, from emotional development, aging, loss of time, health, death, divorce, loss of a pet, change in professions, change within your profession, the list goes on and on. Change is an everyday event, and any change, good or bad, is actually a loss. To move through that loss, you consciously or unconsciously move through a grief process to bridge the old way with the present.

Loss is anytime that our old perceptions, beliefs and definitions of something are changed on any level. This may mean radical change, such as death, loss of a job or other major losses, or minor changes that can be easily disenfranchised, like change of seasons, moving the furniture around the house or other differences that cause your internal world to have to adjust so that you can navigate the external world.

Constantly, the brain is trying to calm the internal world that wants the stimuli from the senses to stay the same and have a level of homeostasis in which the stimuli is normalized. When there is change, your emotional world becomes unsteady due to the disruption of what has been the norm. The brain calming the emotional aspects of self allows stability so it doesn't have to go on safety alert due to something new.

Anger, fear, sadness, joy, relief, anxiety, excitement, exhaustion and jubilation are only a few of the emotions that may surface, as well as subtle changes within the self that you may be unaware of, begin causing disruption within your emotional well-being. A great thing to remember is that you cannot control what emotions arise, but you do get to choose your response and actions.

When you feel out of emotional balance, one of the first reactionary moves is to blame and attack an external source for causing the disruption. Often, this is a very immature action, as there is a demand for something from outside yourself to ease the pain. Taking time to identify what is changing, grieve the change while listening to your emotions and then choosing action or non-action can help you adjust to the many changes in your life - this is the bridge of grief. Taking responsibility for your emotions and making conscious choices from a place of kindness and care as you normalize the new situation will trigger the realization that change will happen again. Through this process, you are able to heal, mature and make solid decisions while growing up into someone who navigates change constructively rather than destructively for yourself as well as others. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Ted Wiard, founder of Golden Willow Retreat, at (575) 776-2024 or