Those events that deserve a mourning

Marie-Josée Michaud

Marie-Josée Michaud

Author, consultant in psychological health at work, leadership and human resources mobilization.

There is one fact that we should grasp and understand without judgment: that grief can be necessary for more than one type of event in life!

Many times in our lives, these words have been spoken or heard, "This is my city, my home, my spouse, my child...etc."

We have this tendency to take ownership while life tries to make us understand, through all sorts of positive or negative experiences, that in fact everything is temporarily on loan to us, whether it is for a moment, until our death or that of a loved one. I have given birth to two wonderful children who accompany me passionately, who are full of life. I have friends who lost their little girl at a tender age and I am in awe, because despite this tragic loss, my friends are facing life: they are laughing, crying, scared and feeling hope for their new family nucleus.

What can be worse than the loss of a child? Many will answer me: NOTHING! And most of these individuals will not understand that anyone else would want to say otherwise. Yet, there is one fact that we should grasp and understand without judgment: that grief can be necessary for more than one type of life event.

In fact, the need for mourning will depend on the importance you attach to the event triggering it. It will depend on your own vision of what, at that very moment, is the worst thing in your life to lose!

In other words, if you don't have a child but you have a partner you love, his loss will be your worst vision. You don't have a spouse but you have a dog and when it becomes seriously ill, your worst fear will be its death. You have no family or close friends who are dear to you and no pets, it will be losing a house, a job, a passion that will become the worst grief for you.

I can hear you saying, "Come on MJ, even though I don't have a child, I can imagine and even conceive that his loss is definitely worse than the loss of a partner, dog, house or job!"

And you are right, your semantic memory probably allows you to do this type of reasoning with conviction. I also know from empirical experience (lived and felt) that your brain, because it has not registered several types of losses, may not have the capacity to differentiate emotionally between losing a loved one and a job. Therefore, at the time of the loss of something very important to you, you may feel an emotional void that will seem disproportionate to others and even to yourself.

Before you judge yourself harshly or are shocked by this reaction, it is important to understand that you and your brain simply have not yet acquired the neural capacity to consciously grasp that this is not an end in itself.

In other words, your brain only has access to the emotions attached to the emotional events that you have previously experienced and that are perceptible. It is not that you are too sensitive or lack coherence, you actually lack experience and/or accessibility ! The next time you feel an inordinate amount of grief over a dog or a lost job, don't judge yourself harshly and don't judge the person who shows the same inability to empathize.

As an aside to inexperience and ownership, for anyone who has never experienced mortality or separation, never take your loved ones for granted. Don't become the one to say, "If I had known how much I would suffer, I would have given her more attention!"

Neuroscience has made remarkable advances in recent years and we now know that the human brain is actively developing, even during adulthood. 

Recently, I read a very interesting article about a study on the development of the adolescent brain. There is now a better understanding of the anxiety-provoking elements experienced by our teenagers such as physical appearance, the need to belong or a first heartbreak.

Through brain imaging, and as the adolescent's experiences unfold, neuroscientists are witnessing the emergence of neural pathways that did not previously exist. The teenager develops and accesses the ability to realize and feel that even if he or she is not physically perfect or that the love of his or her life has left for someone else, his or her existence is still justified.

It's like building a road. As the work progresses and experience is gained in the field, it will be necessary to modify the plans in order to lay out an efficient and safe path.

This is why grief requires time and steps. The neurons must have the opportunity to build the most efficient path to healing. This will be possible through a network of awarenesses by the individual, allowing him to realize that he has the power to continue to exist and why not, to be happy.

There is only one certainty in this world: change. Let's give our brains time to find the path to happiness and stop judging ourselves or others as unfit because they are affected by an event that we consider either harmless or too serious. Wisdom and serenity are acquired with experience, awareness and time!


2 thoughts on "Those events that deserve mourning"

  1. Nice article! There is another certainty - everything is temporary whether it is people, beings, plants, buildings, thoughts or emotions. The feeling of loss at some point is therefore inevitable for humans. The important thing is resilience in the face of this loss.

    1. Hello Danielle, thank you very much for your comment and indeed, resilience is important. Accepting 'What is' in order to be able to take action that contributes to healing is essential. If in addition it is possible to make sure to undo the negative thought pattern that stems from an outdated belief...judgments will evolve to a more emphatic behavior towards those who are struggling to achieve this post! 😉

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