Grief can kill. It is true. Most individuals may not think of the reaction to loss as a killer, but it is. This is especially the case in elderly couples who experience the heartache of losing a life long partner.
The article, “Grief Can Actually Kill You, And Scientists Have Figured Out Why” by Peter Dockrill states,
“Now, scientists have discovered new evidence for why broken hearts and widowhood are in themselves a deadly danger to the recently bereaved – decoding hidden biological markers associated with severe cases of the grieving process.”
Young people in general have a difficult time talking about death. The invincible attitude is all too strong in their emotional being. College kids are among the most immune to thoughts of death with a future far ahead. Many are only starting to experience loss in general with the grandparents, or aging parents for the first time. This can lead to avoiding discussions that surround grief and loss.
The article, “Grief tough topic for college students” by Christian Cambron discusses this reality on college campuses. The article states,
“The words, “death, dying and dead” are more often spoken in passing or in a joke than with serious and thoughtful sympathy. This phenomenon is even more concentrated on college campuses, where grief can present an added layer of stress with no real outlet.”
Like the seasons, grief has many faces. Somedays, a person may feel good and warm inside, then on other days, a person may feel sad and cold. Grief is not just a set series of step by step instructions but instead a complicated and ever-changing series of emotions correlated with adaptation to change. Hence one day can be good and another bad. In understanding this dynamic, instead of seeing grief as a step by step process, grief counselors view it as dynamic and altering process with oscillating peaks and valleys from day to day or month to month. Various factors come into play that will affect the severity of these peaks and valleys, from a vivid dream to a birthday of a lost one.
As grief counselors we need to assure clients and patients that there is no set schedule or time frame to heal from grief. Instead, they need to assure one that it is completely normal and healthy to hurt for quite some time over the loss of a dearly beloved one. This is natural and normal and the more interwoven the lives of two, the more adaptation and pain that will exist. This is the price of love and intimacy. So, what should a grief counselor look for in the healing and adjustment of a patient suffering the loss of a loved one? Instead of counting the magical standard of 6 months, the grief counselor should keep close tabs on the peaks and valleys of emotion that pour out throughout the months. As the months become more distant to the death, there should be less peaks and valleys.
This does not mean there will not be peaks and valleys of emotion, but it means. There could be massive valleys of intense grief associated with certain days or merely just a bad day of adjustment, but there should be less frequency of those types of days. If frequency of changing emotion continues to remain high as time continues on, then one may be facing a more serious abnormal grief reaction.
As the months go by, grief never goes away but it diminishes and the person is able to incorporate the loss into their life narrative. They are able to learn to go to work, go to school, and participate in past activities. The key in grief counseling is not to remove grief, but instead to help the person cope with that grief in a healthy fashion. When we see clients again embracing life, moving forward with projects and learning to live without, then we know they are experiencing a healthy grief reaction. If they show apathy towards life, or show exhibit floods of emotion, then we know there is an imbalance which can be a bad sign in either direction.
Learning to help patients and clients cope with these feelings and also feel normal in their own grief recovery is an important part of grief counseling, while also monitoring any pathological coping that may emerge. The grief counselor is meant to keep the bereaved on the proper path of grief recovery, not give a magic pill to erase grief. If one was able to eliminate the grief process, then they throw away the love they shared with the deceased. The grief is the price of love. It is intrinsically tied to love in a fallen world and it must be permitted to bloom and exist. In some ways, it is the last phase of the gift of love in this world.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification. The certification is offered through AIHCP’s Academy of Grief Counseling and gives future counselors the training they need to be able to guide the bereaved through the maze of grief, helping them peace in loss. Please review our Grief Counseling Program
Stan Lee, one of the most creative minds of our generation and creator of numerous comics recently passed away but prior he spoke with Larry Ling about his own thoughts on death.
In the article, “What Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee Thought About Death and the Afterlife” by Zach Johnson, one can review an interview Stan Lee had on the topic and nature of death and what he felt regarding it. The article states,
“I don’t fear death. I’m curious. I can’t imagine what it could be like, because I personally feel when you die, that’s the end. It’s the machine that the engine is off,” Lee said on Hulu’s Larry King Now. “But how can there be nothing forever? You know what I mean? I can’t believe it.”
Stan Lee did make a great point in that how could nothingness be forever? While he did not have many answers, he definitely shared many dreams and ideas and thoughts in his various comics of what other realms and even death itself may be like. Like Lee, none of us really empirically know, but we can continue to speculate and state what we believe. As Lee stated ironically in his interview, he was in no rush to learn soon, and I think with that, we can all agree.
Good article on the secondary effects of losing a loved one. Many of these hardships, trials and griefs involve loss of income and loss of everyday customs of daily life. Financial burdens are especially hard for widows who did not work and now must deal with an assortment of bills and financial burdens. These are only but an example of the many pains that come with a primary loss of a loved one.
The article, “Financial grief: When death isn’t the end of pain: by Billy Rute states,
“WHEN a loved one dies, the heartache is brutal enough, but many families find their grief compounded by the actions of banks and financial institutions.”
This article clearly portrays the pain many go through financially. Secondary losses are clearly an issue for anyone moving on. They can be financial, or even day to day. The widower in many cases becomes more domestic, dealing with laundry or cooking for the first time. Please also review our Bereavement Counseling Training and see if it matches your academic and professional needs.
Children mourn and need to be seen and understood. Parents need to understand this.
The article, “How Children Mourn: Adapting To Grief As A Family” by Susan Almaneih states
“Losing a loved one is arguably the hardest thing we have to cope with in life, and for children who don’t have the awareness or vocabulary to make sense of it, grieving can be especially painful. AS parents, the difficulty of managing our own grief, coupled with our child’s loss, can be debilitating.”
A type of grief that is largely looked over is miscarriage. The reality is the loss of a baby due to miscarriage can be very emotional and painful for the family expecting. Some families have difficulty getting pregnant and others deal with this type of loss due to beliefs much greater than others. Regardless though, there is always an emotional loss with miscarriage, especially for the woman who experiences it. Please review also our Grief Counseling Program
The article, The stages of grief after a miscarriage, by Sabrina Zalewska states
“Much has been said and written about abortion, and about the death of a child who has already been born. But recently, there has also been a greater focus on the pain and feelings of loss stemming from miscarriage.”
Music can soothe many things. It has an ability to mentally put us in a variety of moods. It also has an ability to help us overcome grief, loss and anxiety. Please also review our Grief Counseling Program
The article, How Music Helps with Mental Health – Mind Boosting Benefits of Music Therapy, states
“Music has been with us for thousands of years as a form of entertainment, communication, celebration, and mourning. There are so many different emotions that music can help us to express, and it is a language that we share universally, as well as one that everyone can understand.”
Great article on grief and knowing what to expect and what not. It is hard sometimes to know what is normal grieving as opposed to complicated grieving. This article looks at 13 things to watch out for. Please also review our Grief Counseling Program by clicking here
The article, Grief: What’s Normal, What’s Not ― and 13 Tips to Get Through It, states,
“At times, emotions may get tucked under a rather out-of-body feeling. At other times, you may feel your insides squeeze with loss. One day, you may feel like throwing something that would shatter. Another day, you could feel a strange sense of peace.”
Short help article on a few ideas in working through grieving. Please also review our Grief Counseling Program to learn more
The article, 5 Tips for Plowing Through Grief—and Surviving , by Hambeth Hochwald states
“For author Laurie Burrows Grad, August 1, 2015, marked the day her life unalterably changed when her husband, Peter, died in her arms. “One minute he was laughing and happy, and the next minute he was gone,” she says of her husband of 47 years. “I fell to the floor in heaving sobs like you see actors do in the movies. But it wasn’t a movie. This was real life and it was happening to me.”