What I Have Learned About Loss and Grief

Nancy KalinaMany people who come to me seeking a life coach come because they are experiencing loss in one form or another. They are grieving. Feeling grief is natural to the human condition. It is part of our makeup. It is the natural response to loss, perceived or real. However, loss comes in many forms. Some think that we only grieve or need to grieve when someone dear to us dies. Certainly, that is one type of grief. However, it is not the only catalyst that invokes grief. Divorce or a breakup triggers similar feelings. People experience angst when they are injured or ill and grieve the loss of health, mobility, or the way they envision themselves. Moving can illicit feelings of sorrow even if we are moving to engage in something exciting and new. To be truthful, most of the experiences that we encounter as human beings bring about some sense of grief. Let’s look at a few more examples, and see if you can identify whether grief is associated.

  • Having a friend move away
  • Realizing a friendship is not what you thought it was
  • Recovering from alcoholism
  • Losing a cherished dream or idea
  • Retiring
  • Suffering a miscarriage

Even experiences normally associated with happy feelings can cause grief. Such as:

  • Losing weight—grieving what caused you to gain weight
  • Getting married—grieving what your life used to be like
  • Graduating from school—grieving moving on from the life that you knew
  • Getting a promotion
  • Having a baby

What I hear over and over again is that people want to be done with crying and grieving and move on. I truly empathize with this thought, as I know grief all too well. When my father was killed in 2006, I was in a daze for years. To be honest, much of that five-year period is still very hazy. During that time, there were moments when I did not see a way out of the grief—I did not see a light at the end of the tunnel. Plus, like most of us, I just wanted life to go back to normal, and I wanted to be back to my old self. However, there was one problem with this. The loss of my father forever changed me. I would never be who I was prior to his death. Finally, I realized this on some level. I couldn’t just move on by returning to work and resuming my daily routine. My life and that routine had been busted wide open. I realized that it was important to take time for me and to figure out who I was. So, that is what I did. I created the space for me. I knew that I was miserable and probably making my partner miserable as well. It was time. In that moment, I had no idea what it was time for. However, looking back, I think I can honestly say that it was time to grieve. It was time to get to know myself, my needs, my feelings, my body, and my inner voice again. It was time to stop pleasing everyone else and to focus on me. What a gift I gave myself, and I have not looked back since.

So, when my clients ask me, “When will I feel better?” or “How long does this take?” I don’t have an easy answer, which frustrates all of them. I tell them that it will take as long as it takes. Grief is very individualized. We all grieve in our own ways. However, I will say this. If you distract yourself with your “to-do” list (pleasing others or doing what you think others want you to do), then you will not be grieving. You might feel down. You might feel sad. However, when you don’t let the emotions from sadness and grief truly express themselves, those emotions turn into depression, which is what happened to me. However, if you make the commitment to dig in deep, feel the feelings that are not fun to feel, reconnect with your body and your essential self, you will go through your grief more quickly. If we avoid the tough feelings or the tears because we are sure they will never stop, we do not allow ourselves to grieve, and therefore the grief process takes longer.

The guidance I offer my clients and myself is this: be patient with yourself, and allow the process to naturally unfold. In the meantime, I will be right by your side if you want some support as you allow yourself to grieve. I am here for you, and my door is open. Please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to support you, and we can walk through your grief together. Remember, you are not alone! And remember to be kind to yourself through this process!


Sharing Corner

When we grieve, we are truly healing our souls. Reading Marianne Williamson’s Healing the Soul of America has been an eye-opening endeavor. Marianne illustrates so beautifully that each and every one of us has healing to do personally. Additionally, we as a country have healing to do as a nation that would serve all of us well. It is a worthwhile read that brings new energy to the search for solutions to our issues as individuals, communities, and a country.



Grief isn't something you get over. It's something you go through. Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.


Until next time,

Safe Space Life Coaching

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