The process of integrating a loss is unique to each person, but has some common themes or reactions. Working through grief is usually done using a variety of coping strategies aimed at making the process safe enough so that the emotions and changes can be endured. One can see that in this the body has wisdom.
“Peek-A-Boo”: Grieving has been compared to the children’s game of peek-a-boo. We learn how to manage it by opening and closing to it: by looking at is, pretending it hasn’t happened, and then looking at it again. In this shuttling is gradually woven a pattern that eventually integrates the change into the fabric of our lives.
It is natural to try to have control of our lives. Generally there are three ways through which we deal with change or stress:
We fight it. (Fight)
We run away from it. (Flight)
We face it and experience the feelings. (Awareness)
Each of these reactions can be seen in the stages of grief and the grief/growth cycle. They are natural and healthy coping reactions and strategies. While the above coping strategies are normal and useful reactions to loss, the circumstances of life often mean that grief gets stuffed inside. Sometimes it gets stuck there. However, generally people who receive information, support, acceptance and assurance will navigate through the journey of grief and find new perspectives and strengths along the way.