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This is one
of a series of articles comprising
in the Break the
Cycle! self-improvement course. This lesson aims to educate readers on healthy
grieving basics so they can spot and complete unfinished mourning and evolve
pro-grief relationships and families.
Typical survivors of
(Grown Wounded Children - GWCs)
never learned these basics, and risk psychological, physical, and
relationship problems from incomplete mourning.
This article assumes you're familiar with...
the intro to this nonprofit web site and the
premises underlying it.
This brief YouTube video summarizes grieving basics, including the three
levels you'll read about below. The video mentions eight lessons in this
self-improvement site - I've simplified that to seven.
adults naturally form
bonds or attachments to special living, inanimate, and invisible
things throughout their lives. Eventually these bonds break by choice or
chance, causing minor to major losses.
Nature provides an automatic reflex
to allow us to accept our losses and their impacts, and return to "normal" (focused, calm, stable, balanced,
purposeful) life again - mourning or
Healthy grievers move through predictable phases in two or three levels, as they
restabilize their emotions, thinking, and perhaps spiritual faith.
Behavioral symptoms of these phases allow gauging a mourner's progress - or
lack of it.
This concept suggests an answer to
"When is grieving done?" Though each griever has their own
answer, the general one is "When the mourner feels s/he has reached the
acceptance phase of each level, and is no longer significantly distracted
from living fully in the present and forming plans for the future.
A common stressor
in typical troubled families and relationships appears to be significant
incomplete grief in one or more people.
Lesson 3 in this Web site offers practical ways to
assess for and
facilitate unfinished grief, and to evolve a
pro-grief family over time.
The Levels and Phases of Healthy Grief
In my experience, typical adults - including most mental health
professionals - are unaware of what you're about to read. They're taught
that grieving is a 1-level process. One implication is that NO children are
being taught this vital 3-level concept, which raises their vulnerability to
toxic incomplete grief.
Here's a simplified picture of our normal
3-level mourning process. It begins on the left, when a
person (like you) first experiences a
significant loss (broken bond).
Some losses may be experienced before they occur ("I feel sure my sister and her husband will separate
If you haven't recently, review this
perspective on losses (broken
bonds). Then note
invisible things kids and adults can lose
from significant relationship and family changes.
If you know someone who is grieving one or more significant losses now
(including yourself), imagine where s/he is in progressing from left to
right in each of these three simultaneous levels.
of grieving can take many
months or years
feeling and expressing unfocused or specific anger or rage
feeling and expressing
sorrow, apathy, and despair
normal emotional stability (acceptance)
at the same
time, healthy people move through the...
Mental level of
grieving can take many months or
grows on what was lost, and what the losses mean
credible answers stabilize, and confusion and venting
no more questions or churning; stable focus
returns; occasional calm venting
with an initial faith in a
High Power also may move through
can take many months or years
disbelief, denial, pleading
"How could my God permit this loss?
trust and faith in a Higher Power - cynicism
acceptance of not understanding God's plan
gradual return and stabilizing of personal faith
Each child and adult will move through the phases in each level at different
rates, depending on their personalities + wholistic health +
environment pro-grief or anti-grief) + the
magnitude and impacts of their losses. When
grievers of any age (a) are ruled
false selves and
(b) lack too
many of these
can become "stuck" in one or more of
these phases, or reach "pseudo" acceptance of their losses.
This diagram gives you a way to gauge where you or someone else
is in the grief process, if you focus on a specific loss or cluster of
losses. Validate this idea using a major loss in your life. Are you done
Note that grieving significant new losses can start before
fully accepting prior losses on all three levels:
for original losses
for new losses - e.g. from moving, cutoffs, childbirth, or divorce
more losses - e.g. from
aging. illness, and death...
The cumulative effects of many unmourned losses can increase the intensity
and duration of each phase above.
of healthy grieving basics and
awareness of kids' and adults'
losses and timings, and their personal mourning progress are essential steps
in patiently breaking the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
Gaining this awareness is best begun
in courtship, for committing to a partner before you or they and any
kids are well
along with these grief phases can promote
major personal and family conflicts and stress. This is specially
true in average multi-home
+ + +
Pause, breathe, and reflect: why did you read this article? Did you
get what you needed? What did
you learn? Would you say you're living in a
pro-grief family now? Is your partner, if any? Are your children? Who's
answering these questions - your wise, resident
This article proposes and illustrates three simultaneous levels of normal
grief: mental, emotional, and (for some), spiritual. Each level has several
identifiable phases that healthy grievers pass through until they fully
accept their loss/es and their impacts, and resume normal life.
Understanding these levels and phases allows anyone to assess where they (or
another person) are in grieving one or more losses. This can help to spot
incomplete grief, which can promote significant personal and social