Updated: May 8, 2020
Why mourning is a beneficial process
It took only four words: “Your mother is dead.” Suddenly the world I knew was forever altered. At first, I wanted to run from my pain. I have sat with many who tried to push away the ugly face of loss as I did.
When facing loss and grief, I have discovered that our only hope is to fall into its arms. We need to move towards the pain with the same passion we apply to when we fall in love.
During this COVID -19 pandemic, the words loss, grief, and mourning have become part of our daily lives. Although we cannot control the pain associated with it, we can control our movement toward and our understanding of loss, grief, and mourning.
Definition of Loss, Grief and Mourning
Loss: is the perceived or real deprivation of someone or something considered significant, meaningful, or valuable.
Grief: is an emotion caused by death-related and non-death-related loss, marked by sorrow or distress, which impacts body, mind, feelings, and behaviors.
Mourning: is the socially and culturally prescribed outward expressions of grief as a response to death-related and non-death-related circumstances.
Mourning and Social Distancing
The nature of mourning involves intense outward expressions of pain and sorrow alone and in community. Falling in loss means creating space for the raw feelings of grief to be held and processed without shame. In our culture, we build many public spaces to fall in love; in fact, we celebrate it! Unfortunately, we provide minimal space to fall into feelings of deep sorrow in the company of others. The only two culturally acceptable environments we can express intense feelings of grief in community are funerals and support groups. Already before the pandemic, we were struggling to normalize outward expressions of sorrow.
Our challenge with spaces to express sad feelings is what makes our present time so hard. With the pandemic, people who are mourning have lost physical space to share intense emotions in community.
The importance of mourning in community
Mourning is a process and does not end with a funeral. With the pandemic, people who are mourning have lost physical space to share intense emotions in community.
Falling in mourning in community is essential. We need the company of others, to completely process feelings of sadness. The absence of socially acceptable spaces for expressing grief may send many to an eternal land of sorrow. Emotions which are not processed find their way into our daily life, interactions, and physical health.
Human presence has healing properties. Have you noticed how you feel much better after sharing your pain with a friend?
In his book The Developing Mind, Daniel Siegel explains why. Our brain is intentional about human connection. Our neurons have “mirror” properties that create a reflection—a mirror—of what is going on inside someone else. We come to “resonate” with the other person, and a “wireless” brain connection takes place. In a like manner, mirror
neurons shape our actions and feelings. They directly influence us to feel, inside our bodies, what another person is feeling.
The resonance circuitry links minds by transferring energy and information from mirror neurons to middle prefrontal maps enabling compassion and empathy. When that happens, one individual serves as a “hidden regulator” to another. This process occurs via both verbal and nonverbal behaviors, which function as signals sent from one mind to another.
Presence has a direct impact on the socially sensitive circuits of the brain. Signals sent from one person have the power to affect the emotional state of another. In other words, when we mourn with people, we support our healing.
Emotions assist our mind, body, and spirit in processing energy. The word emotion comes from the Latin emovere, which means to move out, remove, move, or push away. From that perspective, emotions are pushing away agents, which need to pass through our bodies just like cars go through a tunnel. For this reason,
waives of feelings have a beginning, middle, and end. When emotions navigate our bodies freely, we arrive at the end of the tunnel and release the experienced energy from our system. For instance, when we feel the energy of happiness or joy, we smile or laugh, the full emotion has passed through the tunnel.
The benefits of mourning
Proper mourning is positive and necessary.
Grief promotes recovery.
Grief and mourning are bridges that support self to rearrange and reengage with a new reality.
The energy of grief cleanses us from our pain.
Grief prepares us to make life adjustments needed after loss.
The degree of pain in grief is directly related to the extent of perceived loss and the degree of energy required to rearrange self for the newly created reality.
Scary emotions are a God sent force to save us from stagnation, moving us from a reality which non-longer exists. When we withdraw ourselves from mourning, we remain stuck in the past and deny ourselves full recovery. Yes, it does not feel great or look pretty. I still miss my mom. I think of her often. But the unbearable pain is gone. Yes, I have learned our only hope when dealing with grief is to fall in loss with passion.