Changing Bad Grief to Good Grief

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By Karen Nicola

You Are Not Alone

When we grieve, we can feel so isolated.  Since few people speak of what grief feels like and there is a void of roll models for healthy grieving, our own private world of suffering can feel very frightening.  With fear comes misunderstanding and anger.  . . . and then a cycle of bad grief begins before we know it.  Pain, isolation, fear, depression, substance abuse followed by pain, and the cycle continues.  I am writing today because I want you to know you are not alone.  There is an end of the bad grief cycle if you want it.

Metaphors for Bereavement

Take a look at what other grievers are saying their grief feels like.  See if some of these metaphors for grief match your experience.

  • Dark room with no exit
  • Unseen broken heart
  • Waves and raging ocean
  • Unstoppable train
  • Falling off a cliff
  • A terrifying roller coaster
  • Colorless/music-less world/all seems bleak or gray
  • Unending rain
  • A shut door to heaven
  • Missing cogs in a gear
  • Bad wheel on a shopping cart
  • Deep dark woods
  • Amputation
  • Deep pit or well with no ropes
  • Hamster wheel

There is a healthy way of grieving and it changes everything. This is an active process that moves us from being a victim of our circumstances to being a strong and courageous presence in the world.  See if any of these ways of grieving could become a part of your thinking, choosing and acting.

Healthy Grief looks like . . . .

  • Being honest
  • Accepting, even welcoming the varied components of grief
  • Understanding that all feelings and experiences of grief are the process of healing
  • Asking for help/receiving help
  • Gaining self awareness
  • Practicing self care
  • Giving myself permission to laugh
  • Noticing positive aspects of the metaphors
  • Patience to wait for and find the answers
  • Knowing I will love again
  • Increasing trust towards others and God

Sometimes I find that what others write about grief is extremely spot on.  Here are just a couple of quotes that seem to speak to these post ideas.

“We can endure much more than we think we can;

all human experience testifies to that. 

All we need to do is learn not to be afraid of pain.

Grit your teeth and let it hurt.  

So don’t deny it, don’t be overwhelmed by it. 

It will not last forever. 

One day, the pain will be gone and you will still be there.”   

Harold Kushner

“Mourning is one of the most profound human experiences

that it is possible to have . . .

The deep capacity to weep for the loss of a loved one and to continue

to treasure the memory of that loss is one of our

noblest human traits.”


“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted . . .

He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted . . . to comfort those who mourn . . .

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you . . .

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

–Jesus–     as found in:  Matt. 5:4, Isaiah 61;1,2, Is. 66:13, Joshua 1:9


Karen Nicola, MA is a Certified Grief Coach, Grief Educator, Author and Speaker. It is Karen’s goal to guide others toward healing and the completion of unresolved aspects of their relationship with their deceased loved ones. She believes no one should travel this dark and overwhelming path alone. Karen has presented workshops on grief for Beautiful Minds Wellness. This article was originally posted on Reposted with permission.