Grieving with Purpose

No one is prepared for grief. The rush of feelings, the thoughts, anxieties, and heartache can take us by surprise and drive us to our knees. Yet, when we choose to harness that power for self-growth, amazing things can happen. Good can come from pain.

Sigmund Freud first brought up the concept of grief work in 1917, and today the idea that bereavement is purpose-driven continues. Dr. James Worden chose to see the work of bereavement as task-oriented.


1.       To accept the reality of the loss

2.       To process the pain of grief

3.       To adjust to a world without the deceased

4.       To find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on new life

Your current job is to focus your attention on achieving each of those goals. It will not occur in any particular order. Each of us is different and the path we walk in the bereavement journey is not a straight one. Dealing with grief is hard work. It takes courage to successfully adapt to the loss of a significant person in your life.

Finding Acceptance

Acceptance is the very first task in your bereavement. Someone who has integrated the death of a loved one into their life has cleared the path to create a new life; a pro-active life where a loved one’s memory is held dear, perhaps as a motivating force for change.

Acceptance does not happen overnight. It is common to take a year or longer to resolve the emotional and life changes that come with the death of a loved one. The pain may become less intense, but it’s normal to feel emotionally involved with the deceased for many years after their death. In time, the person should be able to reclaim the emotional energy that was invested in the relationship with the deceased, and use it in other relationships.

American Cancer Society – Coping with the Loss of a Loved One

Acceptance allows us to step out of the darkness of mere existence and back into the sunshine.

Your Support Network

Neighbors, friends and family members can be your lifeline during this time. Some of them may even be coming to you right now to see how they can help. Don’t turn them away; instead, give them the opportunity to give the gift of service. Allow them to walk this path with you in whatever ways they can. You also have a network of professional caregivers: don’t neglect to turn to clergy, your family physician, a therapist, or a grief counselor if you find that your bereavement becomes more than you can handle.