Grief, I believe, lives in the body. And it must be experienced fully for it to move through you and out of you. Otherwise, it lodges in your heart, makes a home, and metastizes.
Unfelt grief, one could say, is not benign.
It dooms us to repeat patterns or to develop overcorrective mechanisms that are unhealthy.
Loss of any kind can cause grief. The loss of a job, of a life you thought you wanted to live, of an image you tried so hard to project, of someone you loved. Of a relationship that could have been. Of a small dream you held dear.
I think the most beautiful people emerge from the ashes of grief that is fully experienced, so that it feels like it's first engulfing you, then destroying you, and finally—liberating you. Like the Stoic school of thought, there's a certain wisdom in embracing what's painful in order to build resilience. And then a deeper kind of happiness can be built on rock-solid foundation.
What is grief?
Residual heartbreak. And it takes diving into the heart of this feeling to ever fully come out. I live out, for example, many patterns borne of grief (from who-knows-when) that prove to be stubborn knots in my psyche, tightening when tugged at. No amount of fussing & fixing seems to make them go away.
But when I can see that the pattern is some misguided defense mechanism borne of grief in the face of something that felt sad and unbearable at the time, then I can move into the hurt. I can tend to the wounds at their source, instead of administering palliative quick fixes.
If I had to distill my approach to dealing with big change or loss, it would be my steadfast belief that life's shit can always be turned into compost. There's alchemy in feeling what sucks, in going there.
Perhaps this child-like belief in the redeeming educational value of every bad experience is... Pollyanna-ish. But it's helped anchor me through many-a-shitstorm.