Why Death Causes Grief

What is it about someone dying that causes us so much sadness? We know everyone will die, so why are we so unprepared for it? The purpose of this article is to identify the factors that cause us to struggle with death.

When someone we love dies, we feel like a part of us has died with that person. We can’t talk to them about what we experienced. We can’t call them. We can’t see their pride or hear their laugh. We can’t share an idea. We can’t reminisce. We share a common bond and experiences, and we can’t share those anymore. We still have memories of them, but we can’t talk about them — at least not to them — at least not in their physical presence. And that makes us sad.

It is the realization that life ends — something we avoid facing throughout our lives and that society ill prepares us to handle — that makes us sad. We may occasionally think of the possibility of death, but nothing prepares us for its reality like death itself. We have the capacity to love and miss people, and when they are physically gone, it is different to love their memory. That makes us sad.

One of the challenges of losing someone we love is taking the advice we know is right — advice our lost loved one would offer and insist we heed. Knowing what someone we lost would want us to do — and actually doing it — isn’t easy though. It is easy for people to say, “Think of the love you shared,” but not so easy to do that when we are so filled with sadness. Memories, at least initially, can be more depressing than uplifting. We think of what was, we think of how much we miss them, and we wish we had more time. All of that makes us sad.

Grief over death is caused by the feeling that we have lost a physical bond over what was and a physical presence that made our life better. Identifying what ails us seems a necessary first step to cope with our grief.


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