Different minority groups share different social traumas and collective grief. The LGBTQ community is no different in experiencing its own pain and suffering in the world. The collective grief that is shared within the community when a night club is shot up not only resonates within their community but also causes trauma and fears of other hate crimes that can be perpetrated against them.
Individually, they face uphill battles within their families, churches and communities. Many are discriminated against by family members or potential jobs. Some lose parents or siblings over their identity. Others face issues within their faith as moral questions take central stage. Along with marriage rights and civil rights, the grief of having an alternative life style can be over bearing.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Diversity Certification. The program is a sub certification for those already certified as Grief Counselors. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals looking to better meet the diverse grief experienced by minority groups.
Grief effects the whole entirety of the human person. The emotional aftershocks of a loss are so emotionally devastating that the after shocks rock the brain and in turn physically rattle the body. Individuals who lose a person they loved hence experience a total reckoning as the body looks to readjust and recalibrate to the loss itself. When this occurs, the brain itself is rewiring itself with neuro pathways to associate with the loss and initial unprocessed and raw feelings. These raw feelings surge from the amygdala and trigger a variety of neurochemicals within the brain that deal with the loss and pain of someone dying.
Like stress, the flight or fight response is activated which increases the heart rate, raises blood pressure and produces cortisol to deal with the stressful and painful trauma of losing someone. This of course gives more free reign to the amygdala over the reasoning area of the pre-frontal cortex. This is what leads to more emotional outbursts, less reason, less memory, and less concentration itself. In reality, the brain and its entirety of parts is in some way responding to the loss itself.
The article, “How does grief affect the brain?” by Joe Phelan looks at the many issues associated with the brain’s reactions to loss and the after effects upon the human body. The article is strongly based off Lisa Shulman, a Neurologist who studied extensively the effects of grief on the brain. According to Shulman,
“The amygdala [the brain’s center for emotions], deep inside the primitive part of the brain, is always on the lookout for threats,” Shulman said. “When triggered, it sets off a cascade of events that put the entire body on high alert — the heart speeds up, breathing rate increases and blood circulation is increased to the muscles to prepare to fight or flee.”
“How does grief affect the brain?”. Joe Phelan. January 8th, 2023. Live Science
Helping the brain heal is what grief work is all about. Grief work helps re-create new neuro pathways that can associate other connections with the deceased that are not only associated with the death itself. The brain, evolutionary, will long the absence of a loved one. This is critical for survival, so naturally it takes time to create new neuro pathways that are beyond simply mourning and trying to find the one who is no longer present. The yearning is a direct result of this and until adaptation manifests and new neuro pathways with new experiences are paved, then one remains in deep grief.
When Pro-Longed Grief occurs or more severe grief due to trauma, complications can occur which can keep the brain trapped in acute grief. The unprocessed and raw emotional pain, similar to memories and sensations in PTSD, are not processed into long term memory. This can lead to longer grieving periods until the information and memory is properly processed, stored and new neuro pathways allow for different connections with the deceased.
It is hence a sad tragedy when grief literally kills one of a broken heart. When things are not processed, adjustments not made, the constant chronic state of fight or flight can produce extra stress on the heart and blood pressure itself.
Reworking Neuro Pathways
Meaning reconstruction is key in helping rework neuro pathways in the brain that associate the loss in a new perspective but also allow memory to properly be processed within the brain. This helps prevent intense emotion that oscillate with more frequency and intensity in the early stages of the brain from continuing to do so many months later. Meaning reconstruction also helps create a new narrative regarding the deceased, re-establishing a new relationship not found in the temporal world. It also helps connect the loss with the present and future, as if chapters within a book. The past chapters of the person’s life and the deep connection with parent or spouse are still integral parts, but those relationships are adjusted and understood in new ways of the person’s next chapters.
Ways to begin to carve out new neuro pathways include journaling and memorializing. Through these two grief works, one is able to remember and honor. The words on paper can help the person adjust and the new memorials can help them cherish the past but also strengthen the bond in its new form. Grief work is tough but throughout, the brain begins to form new connections and grief leaves its acute stage and enters into a far less disruptive force.
Does this mean the loss goes away? The sense of loss never leaves. The connection in the brain and memories can trigger intense emotion, but these triggers are natural and not pathological as in cases of PTSD or depression. As long as love once existed, then the loss will always have meaning and tears can emerge at a moment’s notice. This is not bad but is the result of an emotional scar of losing someone very dear and special. It is to many individuals a sign of their undying love and reminder of the value of the person no longer present.
Grief has a profound effect on the soul, mind and body. It takes time to adjust to it without ever truly healing. However, like all wounds, despite the scar, one heals. Retraining the brain so one can again emotionally function is the aspect of grief work. Adjustment is essential and new neuro pathways are key to that adjustment. With so many false ideas about grief and myths regarding it, individuals can grasp in the chaos of loss longer than they need to. Grief Counselors can help individuals suffering from the trauma of loss and help guide them through the difficult process.
Please also review The American Academy of Grief Counseling’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.
“How does grief affect the brain?”. Joe Phelan. January 8th, 2023. Live Science
“How your brain copes with grief, and why it takes time to heal”. Berly McCoy. December 20th, 2021. NPR. Access here
“How grief rewires the brain and can affect health – and what to do about it”. Michael Merschel, March 10th, 2021. The American Heart Association. Access here
“What Does Grief Do to Your Brain?”. Traci Pedersen. May 6th, 2022. Psych Central. Access here
“How Grief Changes the Brain”. Sophia Dembllng. August 18th, 2022. Psychology Today. Access here
People of color, minorities, and those not traditionally of European descent face unique struggles, traumas, losses and griefs. These diverse groups include African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and historically in the past even Irish Americans in the 1800s. Those who failed to fit the WASP mode have a unique cultural and diverse grief experience. While America on paper was the land of the free and equality for all, the reality fell short for many peoples. Slavery of African Americans and genocide against Native Americans are only but a few dark moments in American history against others. While history cannot be rewritten it can be remembered. While patriotism and love of country is critical, it does not mean patriotism is equal to nationalism and blind eyes to sins of one’s nation.
Individuals within minority groups face unique and collective grief from the past but also experience trauma collectively and sometimes individually in the present. Police brutality, racial profiling and racially motivated shootings all can trigger a more hyper vigilance within minority communities and individuals. As Grief Counselors it is important to see the scars of collective grief and how it imparts on various individuals within minority communities.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Diversity Program. The program is for certified Grief Counselors looking to enhance their grief background and add additional certifications to their resume. The program is online and independent study and opens many to the different types of grief and loss and history faced by minority communities.
Minorities suffer a unique type of collective grief that is experienced through a shared history and shared present day struggle. Whether African American, Latino, Asian, or Native American, minorities and cultures face unique persecutions in history that manifest within the individual consciousness. The history and persecution of minorities in the United States is a black eye to this nation but through proper understanding and accountability, these past wrongs can be made to awaken the current generation to better future choices.
Unfortunately, racism and hatred still exist towards minorities. Police brutality and inequality re-open old wounds and create a sense of loss within minority communities that create a sense of fear, mistrust and grief within it’s members. Grief Counselors need to understand this unique grief and the issues these minority groups face daily.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Diversity Certification. The program is a supplemental certification for those who are already Grief Counselor certified and looking to enhance their understanding of grief and loss within diverse minority groups. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.
Grief care and support is a key element in mental health. It is not a pathological treatment but a humane way to be there for another person. This is why it is lay and pastoral in nature within church, chaplaincy, hospice, funeral, and other pastoral settings. Many professionals help individuals deal with basic human loss and how to come to terms with it. AIHCP certifies many individuals to help others in this adjustment to loss and how to understand the nature of grief and loss itself.
AIHCP’s certifications also aid others who are clinical professionals who wish to obtain a Grief Counseling Certification. However, licensed and clinical professionals are innately able to offer more than basic lay and pastoral grief counseling but can offer clinical counseling for grief that goes off the rails. When grief becomes pro-longer, complicated or depression exists, clinical and licensed counselors are needed to help and aid. Those who obtain certification in grief counseling but are only lay in nature cannot offer clinical assistance in grief itself.
It is important to understand these key differences between lay and pastoral grief counseling via grief support and licensed and clinical grief counseling itself. This is one of the most numerous questions individuals ask when becoming grief certified. They do not understand the differences between grief support and clinical grief counseling and what a certification in grief counseling permits them to perform. Again the answer is simple, ones certification enhances understanding in the grieving process but the level at which one helps others is determined not by the certification but the professional status of the individual seeking certification
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification.
Change is a part of loss. Any loss of something incurs the debt of change and adjustment. Aging is no different. After adolescence, midlife is a difficult time for many men and women. The loss of youth itself can play a large role in anxiety and loss. Greying hairs, loss of hair, wrinkles, gained weight, and lack of past athleticism can cause grief and sadness. In addition, reflection on missed goals, lost opportunities and failures in life can play a impactful role on how one views oneself. Still, even more so, lost of family and new family roles can terrify some individuals.
These shocks and adjustments can lead to negative coping where individuals revert to immature behaviors, utilize drugs, avoid responsibilities, purchase lavish things or pay for expensive surgical procedures. Positive coping reflects and adjusts in a mature fashion. It may look to accomplish goals that were abandoned or re-calculate where one is in life. It may also help individuals better appreciate what one has or even reflect on the advantages of middle age over early 20s.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in grief counseling
Ambiguous Grief is a loss that cannot find closure. It often involves dealing with someone in coma, possesses a mental disorder that prevents them from living a fulfilling life, or cases of abduction, missing children, missing pets, or soldiers lost at war. The person is unable to find closure in processing the type of loss. Some give up hope because holding on hurts too much, while others never surrender. Numerous emotions erupt in this type of loss. Individuals may be enraged or feel guilty.
Some look to find meaning in the loss through social activism and helping others find closure. Overall, it is a grief ripe with complications that haunts the person the rest of his or her life. It is good to allow those who wish to hold on to hope to continue within realism, while others who need to let it go, to finally let it go. Depression is very common with this type of loss so in many cases extensive counseling and support is needed.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification
Human beings are social creatures by nature. They need care and nurturing in their infancy to properly form bonds with caregivers. These bonds teach security and help bolster individuals and their social development with others they meet. Future intimate relationships and friendships are dependent upon initial bonds. Healthy and secure bonds with the primary caregiver translate to healthier social interaction in the future.
John Bowlby, famous psychoanalyst, worked extensively in the area of attachment. His attachment theory today remains a benchmark for understanding individuals who suffer various attachment disorders stemming from their infancy and early childhood.
The article, “What Is an Attachment Disorder?” by Amy Morin examines the various types of attachment disorders. The article discusses the origins of attachment disorders, the types, and how they manifest during childhood and later in life. Morin states,
“An attachment disorder is a condition that affects mood or behavior and makes it difficult for people to form and maintain relationships with others. These conditions usually begin in early childhood, but attachment issues may also persist into adulthood. Attachment issues are not an official diagnosis, but people use the term to refer to an insecure attachment style in adults. Adults with insecure attachment styles may express avoidance or ambivalence in relationships or behave in disorganized or inconsistent ways.”
“What Is an Attachment Disorder?”. Amy Morin. November 14th, 2022. VeryWellMind
Attachment disorders can play havoc with individual’s future relationships and how they form future bonds. It is so critical to give little children the love and nurture they need. When a child’s needs are not met, they can lose trust. Without trust, the child is becomes untrusting and unable to trust other caregivers or form other bonds. Bowlby noticed this in his observations of little babies that were cared for when they cried or were hungry as opposed to babies that were left to cry by their parents or their needs were not met. This created unhealthy bonds with the caregiver and proceeded forward. What should have been a healthy bond that is trusting and secure, the child exhibited lack of trust and various insecurities.
Clinical Attachment Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders recognizes two distinct types of attachment disorders. They both are due to lack of care and needs met at a young age and both exhibit insecurity and lack of trust but they manifest differently. The first is Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder in which the child and later the adult exhibit problems forming true and lasting relationships with others but will look to form superficial bonds that are not permanent. In children, this is displayed with a lack of shyness around strangers or other adults. In teen years, they may outwardly form relationships but they are unable to find connection with others and true meaning. This obviously can lead to many superficial issues.
The second type of attachment disorder is Reactive Attachment Disorder. The child and later adult are unable to form new bonds with anyone. They are quiet, untrusting of caregivers, and avoidant of forming new relationships. Many are unable to form the necessary connection to have any type of meaningful relationships. They in turn will jump from relationship to relationship without having any true connection or meaning.
Characteristics of Attachment Disorders
Insecure attachment disorders form due to the lack of security that most children receive at an early age. Without the security and love, the child grows into new relationships with serious trust issues. Anxious-Insecure Attachment is the labeled term. The child exhibits with the primary caregiver a very needy and clingy relationship that pushes for and craves attention but due to the lack of emotional support leads to the numerous issues of mistrust and anxiety in adult relationships. Anxiety apart from a partner develops and a range of issues can erupt within the relationship itself. These individuals can become very possessive and clingy in a relationship.
The other spectrum involves Avoidant-Insecure. This behavior as opposed to clingy and anxious behavior looks to avoid. These types of children avoid future relationships with adults and as adults, themselves, have a difficult time ever forming permanent bonds with another person. As children they will look for others to meet needs and form superficial bonds. They will become unhealthy independent of others. In future relationships, they can elusive or afraid to commit.
There are also a variety of Disorganized-Insecure attachments where rage or emotion overtake individuals or chaotic anxiety.
The Importance of Secure Attachment
Obviously life is about relationships and social bonds. A secure attachment permits trust. In turn a healthy attachment permits one to be trusting, open, available, sensitive, responding and accepting to others. Those without form bonds that are clouded in emotional rage, distrust, anxiety and avoidance.
In grief and loss, attachment is key. The greater the attachment, the greater the loss and adjustment. Individuals who have healthy relationships grieve the loss but with less complications due to emotional barriers that prevented the relationship from being more healthy. If a parent passes, an adult who has a attachment disorder may have conflicting emotions regarding the loss and not process the loss the same way as a person with a healthy relationship and bond. The sting of grief is still great within a normal bond and could still due to other implications become complicated, but unhealthy attachments can bring other emotional baggage. Grief Counselors who are not licensed need to recognize possible attachment disorders and refer individuals to licensed counselors who can better help them with the complications of the loss.
Helping Children with Attachment Disorders
Beyond therapy from a licensed counselor, children can benefit from consistency, schedule and establishing boundaries. It is important to discuss emotions and how one feels. The goal is to help the child feel some sort of security with guaranteed promises and actions to meet the needs that were not met before.
Individuals who due to lack of care in infancy and young childhood will experience avoidant behaviors or anxious behaviors in future relationships. They will have difficulty forming healthy bonds with others. Grieving the loss of others can also become more complicated when attachment disorders are present.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in grief counseling.
“4 Types of Attachment Disorders”. March 23, 2017. The Holy Mess. Access here
“Types of Attachment Styles and What They Mean”. Rhona Lewis. September 25th, 2022. Healthline. Access here
“What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder?”. Amy Morin. October 11th, 2021. VeryWellMind. Access here
“Attachment” Psychology Today Staff. Psychology Today. Access here
If one is dealing with grief or loss it can be a difficult time to balance oneself emotionally. Adapting to loss can take a long time. Unfortunately, complications in the grieving process can occur which can lead to depression. Clinical Counselors can help individuals deal with depression however sometimes medication are required to help balance the brain during depression. Many prefer healthy coping strategies or herbal remedies.
One successful strategy is exercise. Exercise has an ability to release endorphins that elevate one’s mood and grant a higher sense of self and accomplishment. Of course the biggest problem is motivation to work out or exercise while depressed but for those who are able to find the ability to exercise, will find rewards during depression. Exercise has been shown to be more effective for individuals dealing with depression. The article, “Move Your Mind: Exercise Outperforms Medication for Depression and Anxiety” by Ben Singh, Carol Maher, and Jacinta Brinsley from University of South Australia reviews the benefits of exercise to cope with depression over various medications. The article states,
“Exercise is believed to impact mental health through multiple pathways, and with short and long-term effects. Immediately after exercise, endorphins and dopamine are released in the brain. In the short term, this helps boost mood and buffer stress. Long term, the release of neurotransmitters in response to exercise promotes changes in the brain that help with mood and cognition, decrease inflammation, and boost immune function, which all influence our brain function and mental health.”
“Move Your Mind: Exercise Outperforms Medication for Depression and Anxiety”. Ben Singh, Carol Maher, and Jacinta Brinsley. April 11th, 2023. SciTechDaily.
Holistic and Integrative Health Care Specialists look for alternative and other ways to help individuals face mental and physical issues from a more natural standpoint. Grief Counselors also look to help individuals cope with grief through support and advice. The simplicity of exercise alone can play a key role in a grief counseling plan as a well as a holistic perspective in dealing with loss and if worst depression.
A Closer Look at Grief and Exercise in Holistic and Integrative Practices
Depression is a complex mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, trauma, and environmental stressors. Symptoms of depression can include persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating.
While depression is often treated with medication and therapy, these methods may not be enough for some individuals. That’s where a holistic approach comes in. Rather than simply addressing the symptoms of depression, a holistic approach takes into account the whole person and aims to treat the root cause of the problem.
The Limitations of Traditional Treatment
Traditional treatment methods for depression can be effective, but they often only address one aspect of the problem. Medication, for example, can help alleviate symptoms of depression, but it doesn’t address the underlying causes of the condition. Similarly, therapy can be helpful in providing coping mechanisms and support, but it may not be enough to fully address the problem.
That’s why a holistic approach that considers the whole person is so important. By addressing all aspects of the problem – physical, mental, and emotional – a holistic approach can be more effective in treating depression.
What is a Holistic Approach to Depression?
A holistic approach to depression is one that takes into account the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. Rather than simply treating the symptoms of depression, a holistic approach aims to treat the root cause of the problem. This can include addressing physical health issues, such as poor nutrition or lack of exercise, as well as emotional and spiritual issues.
A holistic approach to depression may include a variety of different treatments, such as therapy, medication, and alternative therapies like acupuncture or massage. The goal is to create a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all aspects of the problem.
The Importance of Exercise for Mental Health
Exercise is a powerful tool in the fight against depression. Research has shown that regular exercise can be just as effective as medication in treating mild to moderate depression. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-boosters, and can help reduce stress and anxiety.
In addition, exercise can have a positive impact on self-esteem and confidence, both of which can be negatively affected by depression. By incorporating exercise into a depression treatment plan, individuals can improve their overall mental health and well-being.
How Exercise Affects the Brain and Body
Exercise has a powerful impact on both the brain and body. Physically, exercise can help improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle strength and flexibility, and improve overall physical fitness. Mentally, exercise can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase cognitive function.
Research has also shown that exercise can help promote the growth of new brain cells, which can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. By incorporating regular exercise into a depression treatment plan, individuals can improve both their physical and mental health.
The Benefits of Incorporating Exercise into Your Depression Treatment Plan
Incorporating exercise into a depression treatment plan can have a number of benefits. First and foremost, exercise can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. In addition, exercise can help improve overall physical health and well-being, which can have a positive impact on mental health.
Regular exercise can also help individuals develop a sense of routine and structure, which can be helpful in managing depression. Exercise can provide a sense of accomplishment and can help improve self-esteem and confidence.
Types of Exercises Recommended for Depression
There are a variety of different types of exercise that can be effective in treating depression. Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, can be particularly effective in reducing symptoms of depression. Yoga and other mind-body practices can also be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety.
Strength training, such as weightlifting, can help improve overall physical fitness and can have a positive impact on mental health as well. Finding an exercise routine that you enjoy and can stick to is key in incorporating exercise into a depression treatment plan.
Incorporating Other Holistic Practices into Your Routine
In addition to exercise, there are a variety of other holistic practices that can be helpful in treating depression. These can include therapy, meditation, acupuncture, massage, and more. By incorporating a variety of different practices into a depression treatment plan, individuals can address all aspects of the problem and improve overall health and well-being.
Additional Resources for Holistic Depression Treatment
If you’re interested in a more holistic approach to depression treatment, there are a variety of resources available. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about incorporating exercise and other holistic practices into your treatment plan. You can also look for local support groups or classes that focus on holistic health and wellness.
Conclusion: Taking a Holistic, Whole-Person Approach to Depression
Depression is a complex condition that requires a comprehensive treatment plan. While traditional treatment methods can be effective, they often only address one aspect of the problem. By incorporating exercise and other holistic practices into a depression treatment plan, individuals can address all aspects of the problem and improve overall health and well-being.
It’s important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to depression treatment. What works for one person may not work for another. That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor or mental health professional to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and circumstances.
If you’re struggling with depression, know that there is hope. By taking a holistic, whole-person approach to treatment, you can improve your mental, physical, and emotional health and live a happier, healthier life.
Please also review AIHCP’s Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Specialist Program as well as AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals. Please review and see if the programs meet your academic and professional goals.
“Exercise is an all-natural treatment to fight depression”. February 2nd, 2021. Harvard Health Publishing. Access here
Exercise and Depression. Debra Fulghum Bruce, PhD. April 1st, 2022. WebMD. Access here
“Here’s How Science Says Exercise Helps Depression”. Cathy Lovering. May 21st, 2022. PsychCentral. Access here
“What Is the Link Between Exercise and Depression?”. Sara Lindberg. January 4th, 2021. VeryWellMind. Access here
Coping is an essential element in human response to loss, grief and stress. Even at the most simple levels of existence, coping and adaptation to change is critical to survival. Human beings cope with loss and mental stress through a variety of ways. Initially, sometimes, the way one copes may not be the best way but it initially allows the person to retreat, review and respond but many negative coping habits over a long period of time can become pathological. Grief Counselors can offer basic grief support to help individuals avoid the pitfalls of bad coping.
Healthy coping is possible when the person is able to understand the situation and react to it in adaptive way that is not maladaptive or destructive. When one responds socially or emotionally in ways that attempt to numb the pain consistently. Avoidance is one of the most common themes of negative coping. While initially it may be beneficial, overtime, the the short fix to numb oneself and avoid things that incite pain, grief, shame, guilt or any emotion associated with the loss are key signs of negative coping. Negative coping may ease the initial pain, but it does very little in healing the person over time. It becomes an obstacle to healing.
What’s Your Grief offers a very insightful article on negative coping in their article, “Grief and Negative Coping” by Eleanor Haley. The article looks at what negative coping is and various examples of the behavior in regards to work, socializing, and parenting. It also lists other ways individuals attempt to temporarily cover the pain. Haley states,
“Negative coping is like emotional aspirin. It numbs the pain temporarily, but the pain reappears once it wears off. Often these patterns of behavior end up making your stress worse because they are unhealthy and require a lot of effort to maintain. Moreover, they prevent you from effectively processing your emotions and experiences, which can lead to a prolonged sense of anxiety and emotional pain.”
“Grief and Negative Coping”. Eleanor Haley. What’s Your Grief
Haley points out three interesting ways adaptive versus maladaptive coping manifests in work, socialization and parenting. Many individuals will either relinquish responsibility or drown themselves in responsibility to avoid the pain of a loss. Haley illustrates how this occurs in work, life and parenting.
In working, some individuals will work long and exhausting hours, while others may not show up for work. Adaptive coping is the ability to handle the loss but still after a few days, show the ability to function within the work place. Likewise, with parenting, grieving parents may ignore their responsibilities with their children or over indulge in their life to cover the loss. Likewise, in the social sphere, one can see the same type of extremes with individuals who instead of normal engagement become a recluse in the house for weeks or turn to partying every night. All the extremes in these scenarios are examples of negative coping. In it, the individual is trying to mask the issue at hand by avoiding it through excessive work or depressive avoidance of life.
In addition, many negatively cope through the use of substance abuse. This in turn becomes a difficult endeavor to continue as one constantly seeks the numb feeling associated with the substance or drug. This can lead to greater issues with addiction and loss of relationships. Commonly, individuals who suffer may have a few days alone or have a couple drinks, but this type of abuse is far longer and in a greater scope. It is not a way to escape the initial pain to retreat and review, but is a permanent new life style that prohibits any response to the true problem and hence preventing any type of healing.
Other examples of negative coping include over-eating and food indulgences, as well as isolation, fighting, avoidance of places, people and things and any type of destructive behavior.
Instead of seeking a numbing experience, individuals need to finally respond to their grief. They need to learn to adjust to the new normal even if painful. This involves adjusting emotionally but also not allowing it to sidetrack life itself. Positive coping looks for cognitive reframing of the situation and an understanding of how the loss or stress plays a role in the overall story of life. Positive coping looks at ways to incorporate the loss into one’s life without ignoring it or harming oneself financially, emotionally or physically. It involves healthy decisions.
Some examples of healthy coping include meditation, prayer, exercise, memorializing the loss, discussing the loss with family and friends, and reframing the loss and finding its place of meaning and construction within one’s own life narrative.
It is natural to wish to avoid unpleasant things. It is natural to avoid pain. Humans are wired to react negatively to pain and instead look away. When emotionally hurt, one wishes to ignore the pain and avoid it. Individuals look to numb it instead of sometimes facing the horrendous lost. While initially this is natural, hence why many individuals deny first bad news, overtime, this can become detrimental to healing. The quick fix of avoidance and bad coping may numb something temporarily but the pain will always return. Eventually, one must perform grief work and cope in a healthy way to ever find healing itself.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals and needs. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.
“6 Coping Skills to Work Through Grief”. Hope Gillette and Sandra Silva Casabianca. July 21, 2021. PsychCentral. Access here
“How to overcome grief’s health-damaging effects”. February 15th, 2021. Harvard Health Publishing. Access here
“The Process of Coping with Grief and Loss”. Isaac P. Tourgeman Ph.D., M.S. September 1st, 2021. Psychology Today. Access here
“Grief: What’s Normal, What’s Not — and 13 Tips To Get Through It”. July 27th, 2018. HealthEssentials. Cleveland Clinic. Access here