Letter of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to the People of God
November 2, 2023
A blueprint for renewal
November 2, 2023

From grief to growth: transformative steps towards healing

By Daniel Francis

As November is a time in the Catholic Church where we focus on the departed, I thought it apt to talk a bit about grief in this week’s article.

Grief is a difficult topic because it draws up so many negative feelings; yet death is a part of life. A friend once told me something about grief that truly stuck with me. She said, “Grief changes you to your core. It even changes the way you think and perceive the world around you.”

After she told me that I could not help noticing the changes of those around me who had experienced great loss and grief as a result. There are many things I notice and although I cannot go through all I will go through a few.

I notice a heightened emotional sensitivity to what others may see as regular experiences. Certain situations may trigger thoughts of the loved one and that can lead to the grieving individual’s experiencing intense feelings of sadness, anger, and despair.

When we lose someone, it can feel like a part of us has now disappeared. You feel robbed and without closure. It is expected that there would be a level of emotional turbulence as a result.

I know as millennials the tendency to shy away from sharing such experiences is high because we live in a world where only the best sides of ourselves are showcased.

The normal negative emotions we sometimes experience can feel like they are abnormal and why share that? A strong community around the grieving individual is a plus to help them feel less alone at these times.

I have also noticed a pattern of negative thoughts. My very close friend lost his mother and I saw my friend change completely. Where once there was a bubbly jokester, now was replaced with a sombre, negatively focused person.

Even after years of his mother’s death, he views the world from a different lens. He cannot help but slide into this attitude of negative thinking. It is as simple as providing negative feedback on the simplest of conversations.

It is understandable to feel guilt, self-blame, and to ruminate over what we could have done differently with the loved one who passed. It is primarily these thoughts that pull us closer and closer to this negative disposition.

The truth is only you can actively work on changing your thought processes. The goal is to eventually get to a point of self-awareness where you can recognise the negative thoughts you are harbouring and see the great harm it is doing to you.

From there, you can slowly work towards replacing the negative thought and action with a positive one. Not as easy as it sounds but a level of patience and perseverance must be applied to yourself if you want to overcome this hurdle.

The last one that I will mention is the altered perception of the external world. The external world may seem less vibrant, less exciting, or even lacking meaningfulness when grieving.

The things that brought the grieving individual joy in the past seem less engaging. Colours can feel less vibrant and there is a disconnect between people and things. This altered perception can lead to a sense of detachment.

Grief realigns your mental framework, and the shift is felt externally but it does not need to remain like this forever. I believe God has a plan for us all and with all plans there are ups and downs.

Death is sadly inevitable and yet those of us who are alive must continue forward. There is no growing in comfort and it is these pivotal moments in our lives that set us at a junction. We can either choose the path that leads to our undoing or the path that sees us build ourselves up and move steadily forward.

Grief is a highly individualised experience and the impact of it varies from person to person. With enough time and support, a grieving individual can find a way to gradually adapt to their altered perception.

Seek professional help if you need it, lean on your community for support, and of course, call on God to help you navigate through this. As hard as it may feel, you must be open to the support to receive it. The person you lost would not want you to suffer forever so allow yourself the grace to feel more like yourself in time.



Daniel Francis is a millennial helping other millennials. He is a two-time author of the books The Millennial Mind and The Millennial Experience, and an entrepreneur. Over the past four years, he has served as a Personal Development Coach whose work targets Millennials and helps them tap into their full potential. He is also a Self-publishing coach and has guided hundreds on self-publishing their book successfully.

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Email: themillennialmind2020@gmail.com