Grief is a reaction to loss. It is ultimately the price of love because its intensity correlates with attachment to the person or object lost. The adjustment period to the loss is the grieving process but the reality is the adjustment period does not completely heal but merely teaches someone how to live without the person lost. The pain of loss is never completely removed but continues to exist within the person but at acceptable levels that do not hinder everyday life on a consistent basis.
The article, “What Is Grief? Here’s How Experts Define It” by Madeleine Burry looks closer at the nature of grief. She states,
“Grief and the grieving process are getting a lot of attention these days, with the COVID pandemic affecting so many people. What exactly is grief, what are the signs, and how long does grieving last? Here, experts share what to expect from grief, along with strategies to help you weather the process.”
To learn more about grief, please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.
Grieving is a process that no one every recovers from. There is no recovery from grief. The grieving process hence itself is not a recovery from grief but an adaptation to life without it. One cannot adjust magically but must deal with the process one day at a time. There are no shortcuts.
The article, “Make Space for Grief After a Year of Loss” by Gianpiero Petriglieri states,
“Grief is the personal experience of loss. Mourning is the process through which, with help from others, we learn to face loss, muddle through it, and slowly return to life. ”
Grieving is a long process indeed. One needs to accept the reality and work through it one day at a time. There is no true time table because there truly is no recovery. Grief instead is a series of adaptations that teach us how to learn to live with the loss. It does become less painful in time, but the pain can always be found if one searches deep enough and that is ok. In fact, the price of love is grief because if the loss meant nothing, we would recover.
To learn more about grief counseling or if you would like to become certified in grief counseling, then please review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and allows qualified professionals to earn a four year certification in Grief Counseling.
Celebrating the Holidays while grieving is a difficult paradox. It is a time of spiritual and social renewal when families come together to celebrate religious and family traditions, but it also can be a time of great pain for the grieving who have recently lost a loved one.
The contradiction of joy and grief in one time and space is confusing to the bereaved and can lead to a myriad of raw emotions. Emotions of regret, guilt, anger, and intense sadness. Memories of past holidays and the love and good times shared are very present and raw in the emotional heart. These memories resurface for even grievers years after, but are far more present and graphic for recent grievers.
This can lead grievers during the Holidays to avoid celebration or even withdraw from family life for the season. This is not necessarily a bad thing for a person who has lost a loved one recently. This is especially true if the lost is within the calendar year and this is the first Holiday season without the deceased.
It is important to allow the individual to express his or her grief in solace and silence if necessary. It is important to give the griever the space one needs to deal with the lost in one’s own way. It would be unwise to force traditions or gatherings upon this individual.
Likewise, if a griever chooses to be around family and friends and wishes to celebrate, it is wise to gently accommodate the needs of the person with sensitivity and kindness. Ultimately, the griever must choose the path that is best for the griever. Nothing should be forced, refused or restricted.
The biggest thing one can do for the griever during the Holidays is to check on them and be there to listen. Listening is the greatest gift and simply checking in. Whether that is through a call, or by leaving a cookie trey, or a simple card. These small gestures carry weight and can help the griever through these difficult times. Avoidance is the worst thing anyone can do for the griever. A balance and discretion are required to know how much to say or how much to do.
One cannot know the first Holiday season if the griever is naturally experiencing grief in its raw form or pathologically and this is why checking in and listening is so critical in helping the bereaved. In time, the secluded bereaved may become more present during the Holidays. They may seek other family and friends and wish to again immerse themselves in traditions, dinners and gift exchange. Or, they may seek to find new traditions, or even wish to commemorate the deceased.
These are healthy advances in any direction. They show a respect for the past, a continuation in the presence and hope for the future. Old traditions may end or they may not, or new traditions will emerge after the death of the deceased, but ultimately, individuals who lose a loved one learn how to incorporate the loss of a loved one into the current and future Holidays. No story is the same and not outcome is right or wrong. The way Holidays are celebrated after the loss of a loved one are never the same afterwards emotionally but that does not mean they do not continue into new ways.
Losing a loved one is traumatic any day of the year. Whether it is during the Holidays or before, there will be emotional grief reactions. These reactions will always exist no matter the year, but they become less intense each year. This is not to say the pain is erased and the love vanishes, it just means that people adjust and adapt to loss and learn how to cope with it, even during the Holidays.
If you would like to learn more about the process of grief, please review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Training Program. Qualified professionals can apply and become certified in Grief Counseling.
Miscarriages are a forgotten grief for many parents. The loss of the child is seen not as a child in some cases but only as what if. The reality of the what if and the fear of not having a child incurs a reality of a loss but also a loss of potentials. Many barren families suffer multiple miscarriages and suffer horrible grief over the loss and inability to have a child born. Unfortunately, there is no grave, there is no funeral and there is no way to express the loss formally.
The article, “WHAT FOUR MISCARRIAGES TAUGHT ME ABOUT GRIEF AND FAITH” by Rebecca Abbot looks at his type of disenfranchised loss. She states,
“Miscarriage has been – and is often still – considered a taboo subject. “One of the reasons why miscarriage and fertility issues in general are taboo or still have stigma around them is because anything related to fertility just feels very intimate and deeply personal,” Adriel explains. “It’s involving the body, our hearts, our dreams. It’s involving our minds, our preconceived ideas of the role of women and men and family, and how we imagine our lives.”
As the weather changes, so does our moods. This is especially true of those individuals who live farther North. With the settling of Winter, one’s energy levels lower in correlation with the shorter days. As night comes earlier and earlier, individuals are drained of post work energy and find themselves sleeping and relaxing more. This has negative effects on health. Exercise is essential not just for health but also one’s mental and emotional status.
Colder and darker nights do have effects on moods. Seasonal depression can set in on these grey and dark days and nights. Less exercise, less light and less energy all play into the hands of seasonal depression. Seasonal depression spikes at a higher level after the Holidays. Many suffer from depression after the Holidays. The fun and excitement disappear and the return to regular regiment and life becomes the new norm. Add the somber weather and darkness, then one can see an emotional drop compounded with negative weather.
Individuals already dealing with stress and grief will have a more difficult trek but it can also effect others with no existing grief. Depression can be over nothing. It can be a mental state with no true loss. Seasonal and winter depression hence can strike those suffering from loss but also those who are merely struck with clinical depression merely due to the change of seasons, the end of the holidays, and the beginning of a cold and dark winter.
So we can look at two individuals suffering from season depression. The first person experienced recent loss and is under enormous stress. This person is not only dealing with the change of weather, lack of energy and darker days, but also bombarded with the loss and the stress that surrounds it. The person is trying to adjust to the loss especially as the holidays approach but this becomes completely impossible.
The first holidays without a loved one can be the most difficult and most depressing. It will in fact take many years before the holidays can be viewed with some slight excitement. The bereaved person will have to learn to adapt to future holidays without the loved one and also learn to incorporate new ways of commemorating the deceased. All of these things will take years and years, but until then, the first holiday without a loved one can be a dismal affair. In fact, there may be no celebration that year. Instead the person may remain alone or avoid festivities.
Compounded by this, they will suffer from the seasonal weather and lack of longer days. The grey and cold will only illustrate what they feel inside. While coping, it is possible this person may enter into a type of depression.
The other individual has no reason for grief. He or she has not lost a loved one, but for whatever reason they feel a true emptiness. There is no explanation for his or her grief. The change of weather, lack of light and end of the holidays brings a barren and empty feeling. This individual suffers from a true clinical depression. There is no loss but the individual nonetheless feels empty.
So it is true that during the end of one year and the beginning of a new year, there can season depression. Some already suffering from loss may grieve more heavily and some may even fall into a depression. Others will suffer from an unexplained depression after the holidays. The change in season definitely plays a key role whether it is the cause or merely an enhancement. The reality is this time of year is harder than other times of year to deal with grief or even stress and for those even not dealing with these things merely due to the nature of the season, weather and climate.
This time of year is physically colder, damper and darker but also spiritually bright with so many cultural and spiritual holidays. Hence it can prey on both the grieving and merely mentally unhealthy.
Those who suffer due to no reason but only mental and emotional response to the change of seasons should actively seek help. Counselors can provide the needed guidance but sometimes others need the guidance of clinical counseling. These individuals suffering from clinical depression will need medication.
Those who are suffering loss or remembering lost loved ones will also grieve. They may need professional assistance as well but if not, they can in time learn to better cope and learn to remember the loved ones not present. They can learn to commemorate the loss and find some joy in the love that was shared through memory and stories.
During the seasonal change it is important for individuals to try to remain active. Gyms and other activities are key. Physical exercise drops considerably during this time span from November through February and individuals need to remain faithful to a schedule. They need to exercise not just for good physical health but also mental health.
Also, trying to make the winter months more special is key. Perhaps going to the movies, skating, or bowling are good ideas. Making a certain night a special night with family or friends to watch a favorite show or having a night out once a week to a restaurant. It is important to take joy in the little things when the weather and time of day light is not as giving.
This of course is difficult when suffering from clinical depression or remembering a loss, but with counseling and if needed, medication, one should attempt to find some good from these months and still enjoy the little things of life. Better coping strategies, exercise and doing little things can help one get through the darker and colder months. Physical and mental health should be a top priority in these months!
Grief Counselors can help others cope through these dark months, and in some cases, licensed counselors are needed for issues that require medication, but through acknowledgement and a firm resolution, one can fight through these darker and colder months and find enjoyment during and after the holidays despite loss and despite seasonal change.
If you would like to learn more about grief counseling or would like to become a certified grief counselor then please review the American Academy of Grief Counseling’s Grief Counseling certification program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.
Noone can comprehend the pain and suffering a parent suffers when they lose a child. This is perhaps the most painful cross on earth. Naturally it carries many complications for a parent who unnaturally buries a child.
The article, What the Death of a Child Does to Parents, Psychologically and Biologically, by Joshue Krisch reviews the psychological, as well as biological tool on parents. He states,
“The death of a child may be considered the worst trauma that any human can experience. Though it’s not a terribly common experience in the United States—about 10,000 children between the ages of 1 and 14 died in 2016—the horrific potential for childhood mortality looms large.”
Losing a family member to cancer can be horrible. The loss itself can be taking place during Christmas and the Holidays. During this time, the anticipation of loss and the fear of losing a loved one can mix with the emotion of Christmas time and family
The article, “Losing a Loved One to Cancer: How to Cope with Grief During the Holidays” by Jennifer Castoro states
“The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, certainly. But for anyone who’s lost a loved one — whether within the year that past or many years ago — it can also bring a unique sadness.”
I cling to scraps of my mother. I’ll take anything I can get. I’ve extracted all that I can from my memories; turning each one over in my mind, carefully searching for something I might have forgotten.
There is nothing unhealthy with continuing bonds with a deceased family member. Keeping on to possessions is a natural way to remember. Of course there is examples of unhealthy bonding when for example someone refuses to go through clothes after a year or two but this article focuses on the healthy relationships we can have with the deceased.
It might sound crazy, but I think there is definitely room for realistic and humorous cards for parents who’ve lost children. In a situation where no one really knows what to say, it’s nice to let a card do the talking.
Very good article about the odd and sometimes wrong but well intentioned things we say to a griever. What if we could make greeting cards for the bereaved, what would they say? How many of these have you heard when you are down and thought “wow” or how many times after reading this have you seen yourself say some of the things you should not say?
Grief Counseling Certification Program: The Many Faces of Grief: Common Emotions that are Experienced
Grief is a universal emotion and experience. Everyone will go through grief in their life time. Many will repeat the experience throughout their lives. For a long time grief was shunned by society. People really did not understand it and so it was often a very private experience. Often times the person in grief believed that what they were going through emotionally was abnormal and so they were often reluctant to discuss their experiences. Little had been written about grief and thus people also did not know what to say or do to assist a family member or friend who was in the midst of the grieving process.
Today things have certainly changed. Grief has been studied extensively over the past several decades and we now know much more about it. Clinical research has been better able to more clearly define this phenomenon and we continue to learn more about it all the time. We have come to understand what intense emotions are confronted in grief and we also have come to develop solid interventions and strategies to help people with their grief experiences.
While grief is a subjective experience and unique in many ways, we have learned over the years that there are several stages of grief which are actually universal in nature.
These universal grief experiences include the following:
Shock and Denial
This phase often manifests itself in a sort of numbness, a feeling of disbelief and a sense of helplessness. This may occur immediately at the awareness of the loss of loved one or the loss of any kind. People may experience feelings of things being unreal, or feel like they are in some dream state. Denial is a strong experience and often people will respond to a loss as if it did not occur. Observers of this may think the person does not care or does not understand what has happened. The observation of denial can be perceived in many ways. In some cases the denial can be very intense and dramatic. When this occurs, professional help may be needed. 2. Pain and Guilt
As the shock and/or denial abate, it is often replaced with feelings of longing for the one we have lost. It is standard at this stage to experience guilt and remorse about things we may have done or not done, said or not said, to that person. Overwhelming emotional pain is difficult to deal with, and should not be stifled. In this phase we most often see people express themselves much more and we also will likely witness crying and the expression of many types of regrets. 3. Anger
A common question those in grief ask is ‘Why?’ Why Him/Her? Why us? Why me? Finding the answer to this question causes frustration and anger. It is common at this stage to try to find something or someone to blame, or take your frustration out on. In this phase we may often see the person experiencing trembling, and there may even be physiologic manifestations such as increases in blood pressure and pulse rates. Anger may even be expressed toward God for the loss. It is beneficial to encourage those in grief to verbalize their anger but to do so in more constructive ways.
You may experience a period of introversion. This stage of the process may leave you feeling low, and you may find you spend a lot of time reflecting on the experiences you had with your loved one. Those close to you will often try to encourage you not to wallow in your grief. However, this is an important part of the process. It allows you to work through your feelings about the one you have lost, as well as reflect on your time together. It is common to feel depressed and this should be acknowledged. If the depression persists for long periods of time or one begins to contemplate self-harm or suicide, professional intervention should be undertaken
5. Hope for the Future.
The sense of hopelessness and despair you felt will start to lessen. You can now begin adjusting to life without the person you have lost. Often, people in this stage of the process start to think about how they might best commemorate and celebrate the life of the person they have lost. Deciding on an online memorial can be a great way to honour your loved ones. It allows you to have a permanent reminder of them which everyone can have access to, be involved in creating and even add to.
6. Readjustment and Acceptance.
You will eventually begin to feel that you can settle in to new routines, and maybe even start making plans for your future. Life will seem less overwhelming. You can think about and talk about the deceased with more sense of a peace, rather than experiencing anguish. You have moved away from the intense pain of grief at this phase.
Time for Grieving
How long does this general process of grieving last? There is no good response to this question. Grief takes “as long as it takes.” While the above stages are generally universal, the time in grief is not universal. It is uniquely individualized. Some go through the experience and reach acceptance much sooner for others; it can sometimes take several years or more.
When the experience of grief persist for more than several years or when the symptoms continue to cripple the grieving person in living their lives then professional help is needed. A professional who has a certification in grief counseling can be of tremendous help. This professional is schooled in therapeutic interventions for grieving and can really assist in helping the person better cope and progress in the grief experience.
As time goes on we will learn more about grief and how people experience it. This will lead us to the development of even more and often better interventions. The time is now for society to become better educated about grief and to learn some common and simple ways to help others through this experience.