With Joe Agnello, Transitions Hospice Bereavement Coordinator

Life is filled with ups and downs. The ups are filled with happiness, pleasure, and joy. They can be intense, so we want as many ups as we can get, but everyone also experiences the downs. The downs are often painful and sad – and just like the ups, they can be pretty intense. The ups and downs are always present, just not at the same time. 

Most people seek more ups and avoid the downs, yet we don’t really know what causes us to have the ups. And, we typically don’t know how to end the downs. It is often thought that the ups and downs come in stages, but that is not correct. They are more like waves and undercurrents that ebb and flow in cycles. Yet, we can learn to manage the ups and downs! Let me tell you how I learned to regulate them: 

Early in my career, I worked as a consultant to community-based organizations. Most of these organizations were highly motivated, but faced nearly insurmountable obstacles. My mentors showed me that they were “reacting” to the changes that were forced upon them. I learned from Dr. Gordon Lippitt to help them with “planned change”. In most cases I was able to help them adjust to the stress they experienced. Then Gordon told me, “even though they made progress, change always leaves something behind,” – when people cherish what was left behind, they grieve!

Grief is a natural and normal human reaction to loss, also known as the broken heart syndrome. Growth and development are a process of gains and losses. We have experienced it all throughout our lives. There is no growth without leaving something behind. We can’t stop change from happening, but we can learn to deal with it. We can learn to manage our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to develop self-compassion. We can turn to supportive people and friends to receive the love and care we need at a difficult time of grief. We can strengthen our beliefs and spirituality to have hope for a better future ahead. 

According to all modern theories of grief, any combination of family, friends, faith, and resilience will help us get through a difficult time. There is no way to avoid grief – we must go through it to find peace, freedom, empowerment, and acceptance. A grief coach can guide you to that end. At Transitions, we have the resources available to help you and your loved ones. We hope that each edition of the Bereavement Box brings new insights and findings, and gives you the tools to prepare for the experience of grief – no matter when, or where, that time may come.