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Grief is undoubtedly stressful. It typically involves a long time of sadness or sorrow, but often other 'negative' feelings such as anxiety, guilt or anger.
The idea that our lives would be better without grief seems misguided. People assume it's good to try to prevent others from suffering. But in the case of grief, most of us would be hesitant about trying to wipe out the grief of a bereaved friend. Not experiencing grief at all thus seems worse than experiencing grief.
Those with whom we have close relationships are not interchangeable commodities that can be replaced. So we grieve ultimately for how others’ deaths are losses to us.
We do not grieve the deaths of everyone but only those with whom we have a relationship that is central to our understanding of ourselves and of what is most important to our lives. These deaths can also evoke a kind of identity crisis ('I've lost a part of myself').
Our emotions can inform us about what we value. In the case of grief, what we feel notifies us about what we value in our relationship with the person who is now deceased.
Grief allows us to appreciate how that person contributed to our day-to-day lives, shaped our goals and commitments, and showed traits we might emulate or avoid. The hurt we feel causes us to notice and reflect on these things.
Grief drained of all painful emotions would not be very valuable, as it would deprive us of critical information about what we have lost. The pain of grief is essential to understanding loss.
Because grief is distressing, it motivates us to learn how to live in light of the loss.
Our relationships cannot continue the same way as before. Grief offers us an abundance of information about how to change the relationship. For example, widows and widowers often must decide whether to continue to live in the same willing they had shared with their spouse, which belongings to retain or give away, and which charities should receive the deceased's assets.
Not every manifestation of grief is helpful. Sometimes the pain of grief is unbearable.
Grief is stressful, but not a shameful state that we should hope will resolve as quickly as possible. It is a potentially powerful tool for adapting to the loss.
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