Updated Grief Condition Model

Yesterday I laid out a five-point “Grief Condition” model, but with the caveat that it could stand to be adjusted somewhat. It didn’t take long to come up with a more flexible version that allows for a wider range of emotional responses.

The first version only allowed for tears, but grief comes with more than just sadness. This version doesn’t specify any single response, so it allows for other emotions such as anger, guilt, loneliness, etc., as follows:

  • GRIEFCON 5: “Normal” life, with grief (rare emotional reactions, prompted by especially poignant reminders or memories)
  • GRIEFCON 4: “Normal” grief, with life (occasional emotional reactions, at ordinarily benign reminders)
  • GRIEFCON 3: Significant grief (unexpected emotional reactions, at even happy reminders)
  • GRIEFCON 2: Overwhelming grief (frequent emotional reactions, approaching outbursts, with little prompting)
  • GRIEFCON 1: Maximum grief (nearly constant, strong emotional outbursts, brought on by next to nothing)

And as before, beyond GRIEFCON 1 would be nuclear grief: total war with myself, deep despair, characterized by constant, crushing floods of emotion.

It’s still not a perfect model, but it may be useful. And, for the record, today I think I’m still in GRIEFCON 3.


Related posts:
Grief Condition Three (GRIEFCON 3)
Unprepared for Regret

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What is the Secret to Being Content?

I was thinking last week, as we celebrated Thanksgiving, that contentedness seems in short supply these days.

I admit, it’s hard to be content when the marketing geniuses on Madison Avenue produce alluring advertisements that promise us immediate happiness, robust health and so forth if we only buy their products. And it’s hard to be content when for decades the Rolling Stones have powerfully expressed a feeling so easy to parrot: “I can’t get no … satisfaction.” But even the poorest among us here in the US, compared to many (if not most) people in many other countries, actually have quite a lot for which we can be thankful and with which we might … just might … be content.

One approach to contentment was suggested by St. Paul to the church in Philippi:

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

And in Richard III Shakespeare poetically expressed how discontentment can be alleviated by the arrival and ascendance to prominence of a cherished friend or loved one: “Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York.” It’s not that the winter of Richard’s discontent is now occurring, but that it’s now been turned to glorious summer — though Richard clearly does not know the secret to true contentedness, as his discontent returns and his ambition asserts itself.

“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” LAO TZU .. (Explore )

(Image: “Be content with what you have…,” by Nick Kenrick, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)


I saw a “meme” on Facebook a few weeks ago that said, “… be content with what you’ve done and be proud of who you are.” It’s available with a variety of background images, and sometimes attributed to mainstream writer Steve Almond, but that idea seems backward to me.

To me, it’s better to be content with who we are and proud of what we’ve done.

The other formulation puffs us up, gives us inflated egos or overlarge senses of self-importance even if we have done very little. It seems healthier to approach life with as clear an image of ourselves and our capabilities as we can develop, and to put in the effort to produce things we can be proud of, whether things we do for hire or sale, or things we undertake out of love or enjoyment — not perfect things, not necessarily “great” things or “better” things than what others have done, but things we can look upon with satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

But beyond that, and part of why I’ve been thinking about all this for the past few days, it seems best to be thankful for who we are and what we can do — to look back at what we’ve done and be proud of it, yes, but to continue to live with gratitude in the present and look forward with anticipation to the future.

I don’t know if that’s the secret to being content, but I’m giving it a try.

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The Ideal, the Reality, and the Challenge

I had this thought last night, and it seems appropriate for a Sunday morning:

  • The Ideal is to live with no regrets.
  • The Reality is that we all have some regrets.
  • The Challenge is to overcome the regrets, and get on with life.

I’m sure other people have had this thought, but perhaps not in those words. I’m not quite sure why it popped into my head, if it’s insipid or inspired — but I offer it for consideration.

Path into the unknown

(Image: “Path into the unknown,” by Jacob Surland, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)


Here’s wishing you the very best, and hoping you have as few regrets as possible!

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