In previous posts, I addressed the relationship between sexual difficulties and such powerful negative emotions as guilt, shame, and rage. I briefly addressed the emotion of grief in this article, but I also wanted to take the opportunity to expand on the ways in which grief affects sexual functioning, particularly because it is such a prevalent experience for so many people.
When we experience grief, inevitably we are dealing with some kind of a loss. Grief is the emotional response to loss. Typically, we may think of the loss of a loved one, but loss doesn’t just have to be about the death of a person– it could be about the death of an idea, a hope, a dream, an identity, and so on. In many ways, grief is a normative process in human development. We’ve all had to (or will have to) grieve the loss of childhood dreams and opportunities; we have to accept that we will never be an astronaut or professional ball player. And we also have to grieve the natural effects of the aging process– we cannot stay young and keep our looks and health forever. So grief is an inevitable experience for all of us in one way or another. We cannot escape it. But there is also a large gap between this kind of normative grief and the unresolved, perhaps pathological, grief that causes long-term difficulties.
When grief becomes unresolved it is typically because an individual is stricken with grief but does not allow him or herself to fully experience it. Essentially, the person is afraid to experience the grief, and develops something resembling […]