The original Version of this article was written in 2013
Recently I began to write about Grief and Loss, and it was while I was putting my thoughts together that a new vibrational sound called Sadness and Grief not only presented itself, however was quite insistent on being recorded.
Why was I writing about Grief and Loss you might ask? There were a number of reasons, a part of it was in response to the Boston Marathon situation, some from a discussion with a colleague, and on some level some issues in my own life.
So how do Sadness and Grief and Grief and Loss differ?
The feelings of Grief and Loss in my understanding occur when we have a situation which causes us feel within or creates for us some thing for which we will grieve, it may be a deep distress or a personal suffering of some kind.
Wikepedia tells us that – “Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioural, social, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss.”
While its explanation on Sadness is that – Sadness is emotional pain associated with, or characterized by feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, helplessness and sorrow. An individual experiencing sadness may become quiet or lethargic, and withdraw themselves from others. Crying is often an indication of sadness.
Sadness is one of the “six basic emotions” described by Paul Ekman along with happiness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust. (Dr Paul Ekman is a well known psychologist with a long history of working with identifying emotion and expression.)
Now if we add together the two powerful emotions of Sadness and Grief we have a potent mix indeed.
I would like to share a story with you here which details both Grief and Loss and Sadness and Grief, and of which I was both an observer and in some instances a part of the story for many years.
In the early 2000’s I met a wonderful family, they were referred to me as clients and I have worked with each member of the family in different capacities over the years since.
If we refer back to the six basic emotions as described by Dr Paul Ekman previously then I would say that five of those emotions sadness, anger, surprise, fear and disgust had been well present in the life of one of my young clients before I met her.
Sufficiently and overwhelmingly were these emotions a major part of her life that she had attempted to take her own life, some weeks earlier. Fortunately or perhaps not so fortunately the attempt failed, she lived, and yet existed was probably a better terminology for her battered body would never be the same again, and she ‘coped’ with the life she had helped to create for herself with a toxic cocktail of the amazing number of prescription medications she had been prescribed by her medical advisors, and alcohol.
The grief and loss for her family was acute, they had lost their talented beautiful daughter and sister and in her place was a stranger, a demanding, manipulative person with a familiar face and yet little of the person they remembered remained.
Although under pressure from her family this young lady agreed to work with me it was a difficult situation and at times a ‘non event’ as she would conveniently not arrive for appointments, be under the influence of her ‘toxic cocktail of prescription medication and large quantities of alcohol’, or turn up and then refuse to allow me to work with her.
At other times she would contact her mother with the plea of ‘I need Sheila to help me, please call Sheila’.
The years moved on as they do, and our interaction hers and mine, became less and less due to geographic distances and changes in my work and availability. As I had developed a friendship with the family we kept in touch and we were in irregular contact, so I was kept updated and was aware of the downhill spiral that this young ladies life had taken her.
It was about ten years from our first meeting that I received an emergency phone call one afternoon to share with me the information that the young lady had passed away, and not unfortunately under normal circumstances, that the police were investigating and hadn’t yet decided whether it should be classed as a as a murder or a suicide as she and a friend had been ‘injecting’ one another with their crushed and dissolved medication intravenously when she passed away.
Life for this once tormented soul was over, and yet for her family it continued on, sadness and grief joined the levels of grief and loss that they had lived with for so many years.
So lets look at Sadness and Grief and Grief and Loss, my friends had suffered the Grief and Loss of losing the daughter and sister they knew and loved, to have her replaced by a remote stranger for some ten years, and then had the situation exacerbated with Sadness and Grief as they mourned the physical passing of this familiar stranger / daughter who lived on the periphery of their lives by her own choice.
This sadness and grief was compounded by the internal questions and self blame of what if, maybe I could have, I should have tried harder, was there some thing else I could have done and a multitude more of such thoughts feelings and their emotional impacts.
I felt sad and I also grieved, sad for the family in their grief, loss and sadness, sad for the shortened life of a beautiful young woman who through no fault of her own had felt driven originally to attempt end her life, with such tragic and ongoing results, and I grieved for the loss of a soul gone to soon.
And yet in grieving and in sadness to we perhaps dishonour the soul’s journey and the choices it has made, to live or to die, to be sad or to grieve to wither or to flourish.
Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you, I will look at grief and loss and sadness and grief as relates to Suicide in another article.
For those looking for assistance in dealing with the many faceted levels of grief and loss or sadness and grief appointments may be made at https://sheila-kennedy.com/services/