Mysteries of Grief: What People Might not Know about Grief

This article is about any loss.  Lately several of my friends have lost pets; a few have lost jobs.    The reason I would even talk about this in a public forum is because I, as an NLP Trainer, encourage my clients to heal the relationships they have with their family members, if at all possible.  Because for me, success equals balance, having out-of-balance relationships may not support us getting what we want in other areas of our lives.  NLP is a methodology of communication.  Integration of the model is to be able to use it anywhere with anyone because an elegant communicator is who you are not what you do.

In December 2011, my mother passed away after a 5-ear decline with Alzheimer’s.  It was a difficult time for our family.  Today, I still think I should call her at those times when I would always call her.  I did not realize that it would leave such a hole in my life.  I know of many of my close friends have lost parents. They seem to live through it and move on.  I am finding out for many the loss of a parent represents a significant loss some may never really heal.

I have discovered as I have gone though my own research and grieving process some things some of you might find helpful.

  1. Grief is an emotion associated with loss. This means any loss: job, person, pet, situation in life, possessions.
  2. Grief is not something that follows a set of steps as put forth by Elisabeth Kϋbler Ross in her book, On Death and Dying, in 1969. Although people may go through the stages identified by her, people react differently to the loss of someone or something.
  3. From an NLP perspective, grief has a very specific structure. It is a dissociated internal picture one holds inside their head.  The person pictures themselves with that which is lost and they cannot have it/them anymore.  The internal picture may also be foggy, veiled, dark, or misty and defocused.

Example: we see ourselves with the deceased person (dissociated). Picture may be blurred, dark with little color. (This may not be exactly the same for each person.)

  1. When grief is resolved, the internal picture becomes associated with the person picturing that which was lost by itself/themselves. People feel the lost person or thing as present, as if they are always with them.  People typically recall the lost person as happy and healthy and remember the great characteristics of this person. Think of someone or something for which you used to grieve but now feel their presence.  What internal picture do you bring up most often?  Notice the quality of the picture.  Usually it is a picture of the person by themselves and the picture brings with it good feelings as if the person were still there.

Example: we remember the person as healthy and happy and associated as if they are with us.

  1. Grief is not something to take lightly and disregard as unnecessary. Lengthy unresolved grief (felt or not) can lead to emotional and physical problems.
  2. The length of grieving time is not important. What is important that a person gives themselves sufficient time to work through the loss and feel the person’s presence.
  3. Talk to someone who is professionally trained. It is worth the money and may significantly shorten downtime.


The above information I am familiar with because I have helped people resolve their grief issues for years.  For one person it was their grandmother; another, it was the loss of their home country.


The following are things that I did not know.  My dear friend Kathy Cameron Russell, a spiritual counselor, and her husband, Tim, an estate planning attorney have noticed some consistent characteristics in people who are grieving whether they are tearful or not.

  1. When a parent of a large family dies, it is much more significant than what one would think regardless of the amount of input the deceased person had in family matters. The death of a parent is a major passing in one’s life and not to be taken lightly regardless of the nature of the relationship a person had with the deceased person
  2. Grief is extended if there is no funeral or memorial service. The funeral is not for the deceased person; it if part of the healing process for the people left behind.  (Note: Kathy said that we as individual family members would resolve our grief faster by having our own individual memorials.  So far there has been no resolution for my mother’s passing.)
  3. Grief shows up in many different forms. It not just crying and feeling sad.  Some people make irrational decisions, become flighty, make impulse buys and spend a lot of money, become crabby and hard to get along with, withdraw, dissatisfied with some or all of their life or become argumentative or resentful.
  4. Any change in our normal demeanor or an increase in intensity of emotional patterns: victimhood, intense feeling of unfairness, melancholy, an increase in isolation or getting immersed in activity to keep busy, health issues, being impatient are all signs of grief.
  5. Kathy and Tim have watched families, especially large ones like the one I am in, make really stupid decisions about money and relationships during times of grief.
  6. It is best not to make ANY big decisions for at least a YEAR after a major person in a family passes. (parent, sibling, child, spouse).
  7. Have your parents (or you yourself) make plans ahead of time: leave a will, power of attorney, living will, etc. Let someone know where documents are.  Leave in writing what is to be done with certain items in your house.  A good probate, estate planning lawyer can help you with this.
  8. Make plans for your funeral. No one in grief wants to decide about the particulars of the memorial/funeral service.  I know you will not be there but make it easier on the folks who are left.  No one wants to deal with their own death but everyone will have to face it.  Be responsible and take care of these things ahead of time as your last act of kindness.


I know for myself, I began wanting to paint my house, inside and out, change my investments and even my investment advisor.  I felt disconnected from the rest of my family and my significant other whose behaviors I started to find unacceptable.  In other words, I was over threshold in many areas of my life.  After my conversation with Kathy, I realized most of what was going on stemmed from the loss of my mother.  So I decided to ride it out and sit still.  So far it has been a good plan.

Bottom line: avoid making any big money decisions right after a big loss or any big decision PERIOD.  This includes vacations, trips, investments, clothing, household goods, cars, houses.  Often, loss will create turbulence in a person’s life.  Doing frantic activity will not make the turbulence stop.  It only makes it worse.  Then there is a danger that chaos will ensue.  The best way to stabilize is to do nothing; leave things as they are. Continue your life as you always have.  Later when your life has smoothed out and you can see life as better again, then look at the changes you think are appropriate.