The Different “Flavors” of Grief


I have been writing about grief a lot lately, partly because we are all going through it in one way or another. If it’s not the grief of someone actually dying from COVID or other reasons, it’s the grief of a loss of a way of life that was suddenly ripped away a year ago. And many kinds of losses in between.

Plus, I’m walking through the valley of grief myself, as well as alongside many of my clients.

It strikes me that there are several distinct “flavors” of grief, at least two of which few people even talk about.

The Grief of Losing What You Had

This is the first and most obvious grief. You had something precious–a relationship, a business, a dream, a home—and it was somehow lost.

The “flavor” of this grief is bittersweet.

Sweet, because at one time you did experience something good. The lack of that now is what’s bitter.

The steps of Grief Recovery, along with The Healing Codes, heal this grief over time.

As an aside, someone asked me how Grief Recovery, as outlined in the Grief Recovery Handbook and used by Grief Recovery Specialists such as Lynnette Hetzler whom I interviewed, differs from just using The Healing Codes.

I think the two are very complementary.

I found the Grief Recovery process helped me to pinpoint my losses and specific memories. Bringing them into the light helped me work through them on a conscious level, and then with The Healing Codes I completed the healing through changing the energy associated with those memories.

It is best to handle this kind of grief with a both/and approach.


The Grief of Realizing You What You Never Had

This grief hits you when you realize that something you longed for will never come about.

You feel it when a parent or other family member with whom you never really had a relationship dies, and you realize that door is forever closed.

Or when you keep reaching out to someone, and they never respond, and you realize you will never get what you need from that relationship.

You feel it when something you worked for and hoped for is never going to happen.

The flavor is this grief is bland, empty. It’s like eating a wafer that dissolves on your tongue before you can even taste it. Yet it leaves an aftertaste of emptiness and loneliness.

Few people talk about this. Healing it with The Healing Codes involves addressing the sadness and emptiness, but also infusing hope and practicing gratitude for what you do have.

Often this kind of grief comes from Childhood Emotional Neglect, and Dr. Jonice Webb addresses it well and outlines a path to healing in her books, Running on Empty, and Running on Empty No More. You can take her Childhood Emotional Neglect questionnaire here, and start on the path to recovery through her followup emails and books.

The Grief of Losing Something Good You Could Not Receive

This is another grief no one seems to talk about.

It’s the grief that happens when, say, a relationship ends because you were unable to give the other person what he or she needed. Too late you realize that if you had been able to open up more, to love more, to be more attentive, you could have had a good relationship.

It’s the grief of missed opportunities that, for whatever reason, you just could not grasp.

Of mistakes made that hurt others and could not be rectified, that leave a lasting trail of pain.

This grief mixes with regret, even despair, and tastes bitter. Often people add to the bitterness by beating themselves up.

Don’t! The way to heal this kind of grief is compassion and self-forgiveness.

Only with self-compassion can you forgive yourself, let go, and move on. Remind yourself hat you have simply missed the mark, there are reasons for that, that this is part of being human, and God himself offers forgiveness. Be humble enough to receive it.

Then, take in this truth: If God forgives you, who are you to withhold forgiveness from yourself?

Ongoing Grief

A very difficult kind of grief, perhaps the worst kind, is when you lose someone slowly, as with a degenerative disease like dementia or cancer. To watch the person they were ebb away bit by bit is pure agony, a shot of an awful-tasting Something added to every glass of water you drink, every mouthful of food you eat.

This kind of grief must be allowed to be felt and healed as you go. It will end when the person is finally gone, and then you can get to the first kind of grief and completion. In the meantime, you must use The Healing Codes and stress release techniques on an ongoing basis to get through it.

Heal These Griefs with The Healing Codes

With The Healing Codes you can address all these kinds of griefs.

Address what I call “the four-part program”: the feelings, beliefs, harmful actions, and relational context.

You can heal the feelings (regret, hopelessness, emptiness, bitterness, loneliness, loss, sadness, etc.).

You can change any wrong beliefs (“my life is over,” “I can’t go on,” “I will never change” etc.) and replace them with the truth (“other people have gotten through this,” “I have people who will love and support me through this,” “I can learn and grow through this.”).

You can address any harmful actions you may be using to numb the pain, such as drinking, shopping, overeating, isolating, suppressing your feelings. (Grief Recovery Specialists calls these STERBs: Short-Term Energy Replacement Behaviors.) It’s good to become aware of these so that you can allow yourself to heal the source of those STERBs. Once you do, you won’t need them anymore.

You can also heal the relationships related to these losses, and come to peace about the losses.

As I learned from Lynnette Hetzler, grief is cumulative. While it is a natural human response to loss, it’s destructive if not addressed. I encourage you to reflect on what flavors of grief you might be “tasting,” and heal them.

And if you would like me to come alongside to guide you in that process, consider getting some coaching from

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