In Times of Loss and Death. What is the Alternative to Acceptance or Grief?


We live in times of a certain intensity in a world of the predictable and the unpredictable. The global epidemic impacts upon perceptions increasing the levels of thoughts around health/sickness and life/death.

Owing to Covid-19 or otherwise, significant people in our life maybe stuttering on the edges of existence uncertain of a tomorrow.

Blessed with reasonable health, energy and concern, family and loved ones know they must find the skilful means to address the shift of another from life to death, regardless of age.

That requires reflection and understanding rather than trying to convince ourselves that we must accept change, pain, sickness and death.

A reaction against acceptance will probably intensify the grief.

Grief reveals an underlying intensity of emotion reacting against the plight of circumstances that bring an end or likely end to the life of a loved one.

The effort to endeavour to accept such a loss sparks a resistance. This triggers a spring back into non-acceptance, into grief.

Emotions of grief require conditions for its arising – such as resistance, attachments, reasoning, blame, guilt, desire for continuity, self-interest and helplessness.

The duality of acceptance and grief seem bound up with each other. Acceptance denies the emotions and emotions deny the acceptance.

We think if we get the emotions out first, then the acceptance will come after.

Or, if we accept sickness, pain and death, then the grief will not arise. If acceptance is used to avoid grief, the mind might rebound into grief and intensify it.

What are Useful Steps?

There are no specific steps.

It might be useful to regard acceptance and grief like left hand and right hand.

Authentic acceptance comes as an outcome of understanding, not as an act of the will.

The application of mindfulness, reflection on movements of life and insight embrace life and death.

The level of grief reflects the level of clinging to a person or to memory or both.

Grieving is not the confirmation of love. It is a confirmation of a reaction against the event.

Grief has the desire for something to be different from what it is.

Grief contains self-interest.

Acceptance is a passive response to events.

Love does not produce grief. There is certainly sadness. There are feelings of loss.

These feelings confirm love.

This is the human face of sadness, common to the wise.

Love includes gratitude for a person’s life.

Love reveals appreciation and shared experiences.

Love embraces life and death.

Love and understanding replace acceptance and grief.


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