Grieving is an ongoing process throughout life. Some steps take one into a unhealthy direction while healthy grieving learns to accept the loss and correlate it to the meaning of the present. This does not magically mean the pain vanishes. The pain of grief will always be present. Losing someone has a steep price. With great love comes great grief when that person is removed. This is a natural reaction to loss, but this does not mean one cannot adjust, while grieving, in healthy ways.
One can show resilience overtime through healthy grief practices that remember the loss and pain but also celebrate the love and person. Examples can include a variety of things that include remembrance of good times, memorials, and new traditions in honors of the deceased.
The article, “What I Learned About Resilience in the Midst of Grief” by Lucy Hone looks at resiliency in grieving. She states,
“In a study investigating U.S. college students’ responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Fredrickson found that certain people showed resilience. What was their secret? Experiencing positive emotions buffered resilient people against depression and was the active ingredient that helped them thrive.”
Resiliency is key after loss. It does not come easy. Some are more resilient naturally while others have better support. Ultimately, the ability to be resilient can help one find a healthier meaning in loss and be better equipped to adjust to that loss. Grief Counselors need to be able to help individuals utilize their grief in a more active and healthy fashion throughout the grieving process. This will enable the grieving to better put the loss in correlation with the present narrative of life. It will also allow the griever to express loss in a more positive fashion. Please also review our Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.
Most grief reactions are a result of an acute loss. Even then, most reactions are not labeled as pathological. Pathological reactions are associated with depression. Acute grief reactions can become pathological through depression but the depression has a cause, namely loss. However, chronic depression is chemical in nature. It has no true reason for the state of mind.
Chronic depression is continual or comes and goes consistently. The person may feel bad everyday, over eat to hide emotion, possess irregular sleep patterns, or feel in general worthless. This type of state of mind requires clinical help from a licensed professional counselor. Many licensed professional counselors also possess a certification in grief counseling and even possess a more indepth knowledge of the depression
The article, “Let’s Talk About Chronic Depression” by Meirav Devash discusses many of the symptoms and reasons for chronic depression. The article states,
“People with PDD experience depressed mood for a period of two years or longer, and two or more of the additional symptoms below. Your symptoms would be distressing and affect daily functioning, and you’d never be without them for more than two months at a time.”
Men traditionally find grief as a vulnerability. From an evolutionary standpoint, men must be strong and a source of protection for the family. This physical stereotype has led to an emotional abandonment of displaying grief among many men. The right way to grieve for men has been handed down through generations with ideas that “real men do not cry”, or that crying is a sign of weakness. This “John Wayne” type persona has dominated Western thought regarding social images of men.
Men have been taught to hold in their grief and grieve alone in solace. They have been shamed when tears are shown and called weak if they displayed sadness. Many men have not been able to grieve in healthy ways hence emotionally stunted their recovery from loss.
Individuals grieve differently. Some may not wish to express emotion but to simply repress emotion based upon a stereotype can be emotionally damaging.
Instead of slogans that “real men do not cry”, many have pushed that true strength is a man who can show tears and emotion. Weeping over loss is not a female only right, but also a human right. While cultures and society may create images of how men should grieve through cultural rites or movies, men need to become that grieving and weakness and are not correlated. Grieving is a natural process that everyone endures and expressing grief makes no man any less a man than the next.
The article, “How Men Grieve” by Jackson Rainer takes a deeper look into how men grieve and social perspectives surrounding it. He states,
“Men tend to lean toward the instrumental expression of grief, orienting to emotional control, a disinclination to talk about matters of the heart, to default into solitude rather than connection and to focus on action more than talk. I fall squarely in this masculine camp.”
The article does an excellent job in explaining how men grieve instrumentally, or through physical and cognitive ways, while women are taught to grieve intuitively through emotion. While both ways are equal processes of grief, the danger arises when individual grievers are socially assigned a proper way to grieve simply based on their gender. Boys and girls are taught the right way to grieve and see sometimes bad examples of grief behavior in both women and men. These bad grief behaviors later translate to future problems for the children when they reach adulthood.
To learn more about grieving or if you would like to become a certified grief counselor, then please review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.
The death of a celebrity, or a national tragedy can bring society closer together. It can unite society in tears and also help others question their own reality. The levels of grief and despair vary greatly. Hence reactions vary in extremity.
Collective and social grief emerges when a a universal tragedy occurs. The epicenter of the grief reaction obviously is correlated with the connection to the person or event. Hence, when a national catastrophe occurs, those with more personal investment in the people or area will react more sincerely in a true grief reaction, while others who may be empathetic but not directly related, will experience a more indirect grief reaction.
Society as a whole will react to a loss. For example, the most recent loss of Basketball Great, Kobe Bryant is a stinging loss to many and a reality check for many others. Whenever anyone dies unexpectedly, individuals react to some extent. Some may lose little sleep due to the distance of connection, but the idea of death and its reality always stings. When the person is famous and not just a mere name, it resonates with the subconscious. Whether there is emotional investment or not, the death of someone famous reinforces the idea that death happens unexpectedly and can happen to anyone, even oneself.
This is the first and most remote reaction to the loss of a famous individual. The reminding that anyone can die at any moment. This may force one to re-evaluate their own life, relations with others, or future goals. A famous person is just not anyone in the news but a person, for better or worst, that plays a key social role.
The social role that one plays to the individual will reflect the grief reaction. Fame is a way of knowing, but it is not true knowing. Yet, even though it is not the knowing of friendship, it still creates an aspect of knowing, where that famous individual has touched the person in some way. While it is not a reciprocal process such as friendship, the reality of the famous person’s influence on others is a reality. It is an imbalance but still creates a subjective connection on the part of the fan or everyday person who witnesses this person on television. While in some cases, there can be a pathological obsession and grief over-reaction to a person one does not personally know, there is definitely a reality that denotes value of that person.
And this is not obsession. Famous individuals, whether in sports, entertainment, or politics have social value. That value is what joy or status they give to one as a collective whole. A king or queen’s death represents a national death and can affect millions. Losing a sports figure, can be a great loss to a fan base that revered the player as a hero. These are not pathological reactions but true losses at different varying subjective levels.
For some though, the loss may be meaningless. If a singer dies suddenly that had no impact upon an individual, then only the reality that someone famous died resonates, but for a person who considered the singer and his or her songs to be instrumental to his or life passes, then the impact is far greater and even more personal. It is ultimately very subjective how much someone who is famous plays a part in one’s life. While it may seem silly to some, or obsessive to mourn someone you may have never met or only seen from the distance, it still does not equate to pathology but a true human connection. Again, where subjectively draws the line to a pathological grief reaction and a normal reaction is a cloudy line.
For instance, Kobe Bryant’s death has reminded everyone collectively of the fragile nature of life. His death has also brought the basketball community to tears. However, as one approaches the epicenter of the loss, proportionate grief reactions are seen more intense. The friendship Kobe had with teammates and family is obviously greater than that of a distant fan. The love between his parents, wife and children is also far more intense. Kobe is not an image to these individuals but a true reciprocal relationship. Kobe’s closest family did not lose a mere name or symbol, but a husband, father and son.
If grief reactions from fans or the national collective match the intensity of close family and friends, then one may have to consider the attachment to Kobe and the grief reaction to be obsessive and pathological. Yet, to merely admonish someone for grieving the loss of a famous individual is wrong and simply bad grief counseling. It is healthy to socially grieve a sports hero but it has to be proportionate. Grief Counselors need to identify what is healthy and not healthy in this type of social grief.
With social media discussing his death everywhere there are bound to be ignorant comments and reactions. Some will come from individuals who fear death itself and prefer to ignore it or hide it by dismissing Kobe. There will be those who downplay it and criticize others for grieving the loss. Others will dismiss Kobe and say, others should only grieve real heroes, like soldiers. These dismissive snubs and rude remarks are a result of inner issues or reactions to arise responses from others regarding Kobe’s death. They will seek to escape the story of his death and troll other social media users.
In the social media age though, this is what occurs when news happens. There is naturally an over flooding of content of which is sure to upset some. Some individuals will post and post about an event. Others within the news or light of society, will try to make memes about the death of an individual. Many are attempting to memorialize the event. Others may be over reaching and creating more drama than necessary. Hence, one will see in deaths, a rift between the over dramatic and the acrimonious. Where one will over dramatize the event, while the other downplays the death with sarcastic remarks.
Why is Kobe’s death more impactful? Why are the unknown people that die not recognized at such a dramatic and universal level? Why is the death of a soldier not mourned more universally than the death of a star? One is never dismissing the death of anyone, especially soldiers or others who may have died, with Kobe, in the tragic helicopter accident, but when famous people die, people notice. Maybe not due to importance of the person personally, or that this person did more or did less, but because famous people are known. A known individual, important or not, touches everyone. How it touches one may vary, but it nonetheless touches. A soldier’s death clearly is more impactful than a mere stranger. While the soldier is not personally known, he collectively represents our national heroes, but the impact of a famous person’s death may resonate deeper because that person is known. Whether this occurs for everyone or not depends on their military up-bringing, level of patriotism, and values. Obviously, a soldier’s death is far more important to the nation, but in regards to attachment, fame can make one feel closer.
This is probably why the death of a famous military leader, war hero, or king garnishes the most acknowledgement in society. It captures true objective importance and also the subjective relationships formed by the masses regarding the individual.
How the person touched you, even though it was never a friendship, depends on the value the person played in your life and what that person contributed socially to the nation and society, or to your own personal views and development. Hence, grief, even over someone you never met, is justified. The reaction though to not be pathological must be proportionate.
For one person, a particular singer may have created a song so important to the person’s life that it encouraged him or her on the darkest days. For another person, the magical shot Kobe hit that lifted the Lakers to another title, may have been a cherished moment with a father and son. These moments are not replaceable and play a key role in the person’s life narrative and when the person who shared in it, passes away, it creates a reaction. Famous individuals whether in a reciprocal relationship or not can sometimes unknowingly play an important part in someone’s life.
Whether pathological reactions, bitter reactions, or true sad social reactions proportionate to the death exist, there will always be reactions to the death of a famous person in any social sphere because it forces one to wrestle with the notion of death.
If you would like to learn more about Grief Counseling or would like to become certified in Grief Counseling then please review the American Academy of Grief Counseling’s certification program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The Grief Counseling Certification is a four year certification and open to behavioral health and healthcare professionals. The program is also open to those in ministry and care of the grieving.
On many occasions driven individuals reach an emotional dead end. They can no longer proceed forward and became mentally fatigued. This is referred to as burn out. When an individual burns out they no longer feel the drive or energy to keep doing what they had been doing. This type of burn out can be triggered by a host of things. Usually it is due to putting too much on one’s shoulders and agenda to carry. It then takes easily one thing to make the entire body crumble under the stress. Some question is this type of burnout a type of depression?
The article, “Is Burnout Actually a Form of Depression? by Grant Brenner looks at how individuals can balance work and life without dismissing the possibility of clinical depression. He states,
“The distinction between burnout and depression is blurry, distracted by impassioned debate. The World Health Organization presents depression and burnout as serious problems — one as a medical illness, and the other as the result of professional factors. Yet they are similar, and depression has been around much longer.”
It is very important to understand one’s mental, emotional and physical barriers. In acknowledging limitations, one can prevent possible burnout or depression. Please also review our Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.
Depression is a chronic state of perpetual sadness. Some forms of depression are acutely caused and temporary while other forms have no real reason and can last for months upon months or reoccur.
Depression is a far more serious state than normal grief reaction. Normal grief reaction results from loss in some form. It proceeds through a series of responses that can go in a particular order or not. Various emotions can skip out of the so called order of denial, anger, bargaining, mourning and acceptance. In fact, normal grief reactions can also have extreme oscillations and reversals to previous states. None of this constitutes depression necessarily. Grief itself is a natural reaction to loss and is not a pathology. Sadness over loss even years after does not designate depression, but the inability to escape continual acute emotional pain and ability to adjust to new life does.
Depression though results in a variety of complications that prevent a normal grief reaction. Sudden or extreme losses can cause depression, as well as, situations surrounding the loss itself. Some losses are so extreme or the situations so gruesome that it can shake the very fabric of the individual’s life narrative. These reactions can lead to later complications in the grief response and prevent adaption to the loss.
Depression hence can be caused due to external issues but it can also be internal. Depression sometimes may have no true cause or loss correlated with it.
The article, “Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. There are several different types of depression.” by Jane Leonard looks at the different types of depression and their symptoms. She states,
“Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. There are several different types of depression. People with depression experience distinct periods — lasting at least 2 weeks — of sadness, low energy, and loss of interest in things that they once enjoyed. People sometimes refer to these periods as depressive episodes.”
To read the entire article on depression, please click here
It is important to realize that simply certified grief counselors without any type of counseling license cannot treat depression. They can help with others in overcoming the pains of grief but they cannot treat depression. Individuals who are licensed and also obtain a certification in Grief Counseling have the ability to utilize their skills to treat both, natural grief and complications in grief. This does not mean certified grief counselors do not play an important role. Those who are only certified but not licensed as counselors, can still help others overcome loss and possibly identify signs of grief complication. They can serve as front line soldiers in helping others find the help they need in overcoming depression.
Please also review our Grief Counseling Certification program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and is open to qualified professionals seeking certification.
Grief and lack of sleep can go both coincide. Grief can affect sleep patterns in negative ways. The lack of sleep and depression can have multiple effects on one’s health. It is important to manage depression and sleep and to find the necessary help to be healthy emotionally and physically.
The article, “What is the relationship between depression and sleep?” by Timothy Legg states,
“According to one scientific journal, sleep loss might contribute to neurochemical changes in the brain, which can result in depression. The researchers also suggest that depression may lead to disrupted sleeping patterns.”
Bad sleep and depression build on each other in the most negative ways. It is best to treat one’s depression so sleep is not affected. Please also review our Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.
It can become very difficult to know when you are truly depressed or just dealing with the grey and cold skies of Winter. Many individuals naturally feel more depressed with less day light and the ending of the holidays and Christmas. These things are natural but for some it is hard to tell the difference between true depression and the winter blues.
The article, “How to Know the Difference Between the Winter Blues and Depression – and What You Can do About It” from Localtalk Contributor looks more deeply at the differences and what can be done about it. The article states,
“More than 300 million people worldwide experience depression. Depression can affect anyone regardless of age, culture or lifestyle. Many factors can impact mental health including medical illness, environment, challenging life events and memories. There are often multiple causes, but it is not anyone’s fault. ”
Veterans face a tough road with grief, anxiety and PTSD. The things soldiers see in war is sometimes traumatic and scarring to the individual soldier. Many soldiers do not receive the help they need. Instead they face many issues alone. It is important for them to meet with others, discuss and review traumatic events.
The article, “7 WAYS GRIEF AFFECTS VETERANS” by Pat Harriman states,
“Researchers determined levels of grief, including preoccupation with a lost comrade and inability to accept the loss, through participants’ self-reported combat exposure, unit cohesion, PTSD symptoms, anger, past post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression diagnoses, and pre-deployment life events.”
Grief counselors and other specialists can help work with soldiers face these issues. There are so many issues under laying trauma that need to be exposed and discussed for proper healing. Please also review our Grief Counseling Certification.
Some individuals while coping through grief deal with difficulties in overcoming the grief due to various thoughts that surround the death or incident. Trying to escape these thoughts can become exhausting emotionally. Whats Your Grief refers to these as stuck points, when someone is unable to move past a certain aspect of the loss.
Usually these points challenge pre-conceived notions or values. The loss makes the griever doubt these notions and prevents them from moving forward but keeps them constantly stuck, re-tracking and falling prey to those thoughts. This is very detrimental to the grieving process and coping
The article, “What are Stuck Points in Grief?” from Whats Your Grief states,
“Stuck points refer to thoughts that repeatedly bubble up in a person’s inner (and outer) dialogue that make it difficult for a person to process, cope with, or reconcile their experiences. To me, stuck points are like mean old trolls living under a bridge. Whenever a person tries to gain some momentum in working through their experiences, the troll comes up and says “Nope, you can’t pass. Now go back and think about what’s happened.”
Another type of stuck point is a religious view some may contend with. Many pray to God for cures or good things to occur. The problem is sometimes that cure does not occur. Bad things do happen to good people.
This can create a complex within someone that creates a religious paradigm within the individual. While coping with grief and loss, they may constantly turn back to “Why did God do this to me?” or “Were not my prayers good enough?”
In addition to this, others may begin to see their loss in a form of religious struggle. If God is good how can he allow this evil? Or if God is good, then he must not be All Powerful to allow this evil?
These spiritual dilemmas are a result of primitive understanding of faith. First, prayer is not contract. When prayer is seen as contract, it fails to meet the relationship that exists. A covenant of mutual care not necessarily answers that we demand if we do this or that.
Second, God is All Powerful and All Good, but he has given free will to others. This permits evil. One can also not see the over all view of existence within our temporal realm.
The article also does a good job at looking at other world views that are not religious. The ideal of the world being a safe place when violence occurs to a loved one can have long lingering effects.
Grief is difficult enough to deal with. Coping with a loss can be difficult but when certain ideas regarding that loss start to affect one’s coping and emotions, then they need to be analyzed and understood. As the article states, one should document in a diary how common these thoughts are and relate them to reason as opposed to emotion. If necessary, talk about these thoughts and try to get passed them.
If you would like to learn more about Grief Counseling, then please review our Grief Counseling Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.
The program is a home study program. It is online and self paced. As an independent study program you go at your own pace. After completing the required four courses, you can proceed to apply for certification. Certification is four years and can be renewed as needed.