For what do we grieve?

The thought occurred to me that grief is a manifestation of self-pity. I know that is a significant oversimplification of the maelstrom of emotions that we, the bereaved, face in our grief – but what, exactly do we grieve?

We grieve our loss. OUR loss. Something that happened to us. This thought occurred to me yesterday and immediately took residence, continually popping up like a bad neighbor peeking over the fence. What, exactly, are we grieving? Our spouse is beyond the suffering of this vale of tears. There is no more pain for them. We grieve the loss of someone in our life, a partner, confidant, lover…

Again, an oversimplification. Kim died of a horrible, painful, wasting disease. I feel great sadness thinking of her last months of life; that she was uncomfortable and in pain and couldn’t enjoy the things she loved to do. I feel sadness at how that disease robbed her of everything before finally taking her life. But, in grieving over her death… again: is it just self-pity?

An article I came across discriminates between the two by saying self-pity has to do with the want of something we need (or, I’d argue: simply want,..) but cannot have, and grief has to do with the loss of something you had. Sounds a bit like splitting hairs to me. This one does a little better job, perhaps – even so, it seems there is ample overlap.

So it’s a question, I guess, to be explored by brighter minds in psychology than mine. Maybe now that I’ve written it down, it will stop shaking my mind like a puppy shaking its toy.