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  1. #1
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Default What good is grief?

    This is something that I've wondered about for a while. Emotions provide the fuel for us - our passions, motivation, our inspirations. Fear causes us to be cautious. Anger spurs us to act and take a stand. Joy is replenishing. All emotions - negative or positive - pretty much have a positive in my mind.

    But grief - and the associated depression - I see no redeeming value in this whatsoever. It seems like all downside. If grief were to be obliterated from the human experience, would things be better or worse? Is there any positive value in it whatsoever?

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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    Not everything has to be adaptive. Shit happens, we get sad. We lose something - we feel it's loss.
    Grief is just a more extreme form of feeling loss. If you want to look for a way in which it can be adaptive, being loss-averse (we experience loss, we don't like it, we try hard not to lose in the future) makes us risk-averse, which can mean we end up losing less of the time. In the context of human beings, it might make us take better care of them.
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    Grief changes us like nothing else can. It strips us of who were are or thought we were. It cleans our slate so we can replenish it with something new. It's akin to death.
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    Senior Member Santosha's Avatar
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    Grieving can be beneficial in two key ways, the comprehension of the value of bonds and the ability to accept that those bonds are impermanent. The stronger the grief, the more work that needs to be done in this area. It is an opportunity to increase our awareness and progress. When grief has ran its course it is highly liberating, one has broken through a mental limit or type of bondage they did not believe they could, which is also empowering.
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  5. #5
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    But grief - and the associated depression - I see no redeeming value in this whatsoever. It seems like all downside. If grief were to be obliterated from the human experience, would things be better or worse? Is there any positive value in it whatsoever?

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?
    I see grief as an indicator of psychological pain/injury, and by-product of the healing process. When we have a physical injury or wound, say a broken leg or even a surgery, we experience physical pain, which changes and eventually (one hopes) abates as healing progresses. We try to minimize this with comfort measures, but physical pain is a valuable and necessary indicator of something wrong.

    Grief plays the same role for at least certain non-physical wounds. We can apply comfort measures - quiet reflection, time with friends, etc. - and as healing progresses, the grief becomes easier to bear.

    I suppose I am saying not so much that grief itself has a purpose, but that it necessarily accompanies something else that does. I'm not sure we could remove the feelings of grief and still have productive healing of loss.
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  6. #6
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salomé View Post
    Grief is just a more extreme form of feeling loss. If you want to look for a way in which it can be adaptive, being loss-averse (we experience loss, we don't like it, we try hard not to lose in the future) makes us risk-averse, which can mean we end up losing less of the time. In the context of human beings, it might make us take better care of them.
    This is the only thing I can come up as far as it having value with respect to evolution of the species. Thousands or even hundreds of years ago, if we were to lose a person close to us, say a child (which happened a lot back then), it would cause you to be more careful in the future with other loved ones. I can see it there actually having a purpose. I think this is less value in modern society.

    Quote Originally Posted by AphroditeGoneAwry View Post
    Grief changes us like nothing else can. It strips us of who were are or thought we were. It cleans our slate so we can replenish it with something new. It's akin to death.
    This seems important because it knocks you off kilter - maybe you can no longer ignore certain things that have been swept under the rug. I can see the potential as a catalyst for change in those cases where it is tied to a significant life change. I can see the potential this has for good but I can also see the potential for bad. When people have a child that dies, it often leads to divorce. How can that be good? Also, if a parent dies and you grieve the loss - I don't see how that cleans our slate. We're just really sad this person is gone. There is nothing to change. We all die.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    Grieving can be beneficial in two key ways, the comprehension of the value of bonds and the ability to accept that those bonds are impermanent. The stronger the grief, the more work that needs to be done in this area. It is an opportunity to increase our awareness and progress. When grief has ran its course it is highly liberating, one has broken through a mental limit or type of bondage they did not believe they could, which is also empowering.
    This sounds important but I'm not entirely clear what you're saying. How is it liberating? Can you provide an example?


    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post


    I see grief as an indicator of psychological pain/injury, and by-product of the healing process. When we have a physical injury or wound, say a broken leg or even a surgery, we experience physical pain, which changes and eventually (one hopes) abates as healing progresses. We try to minimize this with comfort measures, but physical pain is a valuable and necessary indicator of something wrong.

    Grief plays the same role for at least certain non-physical wounds. We can apply comfort measures - quiet reflection, time with friends, etc. - and as healing progresses, the grief becomes easier to bear.

    I suppose I am saying not so much that grief itself has a purpose, but that it necessarily accompanies something else that does. I'm not sure we could remove the feelings of grief and still have productive healing of loss.
    It's a great analogy. Physical pain tells us something is wrong. It causes us to rest the injured joint thereby helping it to heal. I think what you are saying is that it tells us we need to make changes to help us heal. It also brings others to us because they see the distress and that something is wrong. That makes some sense. Psychological pain/injury seems more nebulous than physical injury. Less concrete. Grief generally lasts longer than physical pain so I guess it takes longer for those kinds of injuries to heal.

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  7. #7
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    If it's grief from loss, maybe it helps you appreciate what you have. Maybe it teaches you strength from endurance.
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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giggly View Post
    If it's grief from loss, maybe it helps you appreciate what you have.
    Yes. My experience lines up with that.

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  9. #9
    No moss growing on me Giggly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    Yes. My experience lines up with that.
    I have to say that some grief has left me with a degree of sadness that just won't or hasn't yet gone away and that sadness does seem rather useless.

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    Grief is like house cleaning. It's the flushing of the past out of our minds and bodies. If we don't allow ourselves to experience grief, we can become angry, depressed, start acting out, and in some situations, continue clinging to unhealthy patterns or ways of being. Grief is the process of emotional change, and coping with that change.

    If we did not experience grief when a person leaves our life through a break-up, divorce, or death, it's highly unlikely we'd value them so much when they were around.

    I think I had to flush out some remaining grief in the past week, and it's been a really good experience for me. Of course it was do more to a break-up experience than a death (which is a form of grief I've also experienced in my life, and it's different, ofc) but I learned a great deal from it.

    I'm actually glad I faced it and went through it. I realized some things.

    Grief is the process of "letting go" of what no longer serves us or is no longer available to us on this plane of existence.

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