Grief is a process. It takes time to adapt and adjust to loss. Refusing to do grief work can lead to later complicated grief.
This is not to say that one overcomes the sense of loss, but it does teach us that we can adjust and live life if we properly work through grief.
The article, “Live Well: Are you willing to dance with your painful partner named Grief?” by Jennifer Mulson states,
“This is about the time people often check out and begin to numb themselves through any manner of methods — food, alcohol, drugs — or preoccupy themselves so they don’t have to feel anything. But really, this is the moment to step into the emotions and feel them fully, even though it might feel as if you’ll be swept under a current of pain and never resurface.”
It is amazing how wen one experiences grief, how real and different it is from simply reading about grief. One then is cast into the hell of reality that is about loss. Where emotions come and go and sadness remains a constant.
The article, “What I Didn’t Understand About The Stages Of Grief — Until I Was In Them” by Caila Smith states,
My daughter died from SIDS when I was 22 years old. My life was just beginning, the best was supposedly yet to come, and I was hit with a head-on collision of life-shattering grief. Other than my grandma’s passing ten years prior, I’d never felt grief. So I definitely never thought about the stages that are known to go along with it.
Good article on simply taking the time to write condolence letter for one in grief. It does not have to be deep but simply an acknowledgement of the loss. While somethings can be said that should not be, it is best to at least say something brief for the bereaved. This article looks at the importance of even a simple statement
The article, The Gift of Shared Grief”: It’s hard to know what to say to people in mourning. Say something anyway.” by Margarat Renkl states,
When my mother died in 2012, she left behind a huge collection of memorabilia. Not just the usual love letters, family photographs and cherished recipe cards but also random items that almost no one else bothers to save. Parking tickets. Embossed cocktail napkins from the weddings of people I’ve never heard of.”
Child abductions are a great grief for all parents and family. It goes well beyond losing but the ambiguity of that loss. The numerous “what ifs” associated with the missing child. Is my child alive, dead or suffering are horrible scenarios to imagine. This type of loss can also lead to unresolved grief if the child is never found.
The article, “Child abductions: Parents share pains, emotional trauma” by Taiwo Adeniyi & Clement Oloyede states,
“Mariam Usman receives all calls to her phone with the hope that the caller brings news about her missing child. When the screen of her phone got faulty, her apprehension was heightened as she could not tell who the caller was until the conversation started. Daily, she hopes that someone would call and tell her the whereabouts of her son. She wakes up daily with prayers and hope, but as days turn into months, her hope wanes.”
While this article deals with abductions in Africa, the feeling all parents feel is universal in nature. The loss of a child without any closure can be a complicated issue with long term pathological results. Please also review our Grief Counseling Program.
A sudden death is always tragic. It is unexpected and because of that can cause more trauma than an expected death. Noone is truly prepared to see a loved one pass away but sudden death can cause many issues for the grieving. In particular, the nature of the death, as well as unresolved issues due to the sudden passing, can all cause more intense grief reactions.
The article, “How can I deal with someone’s sudden death?”by Diana Sebzda takes a closer look at this. The article states,
“It is not unusual for us to hear the stories of sudden deaths that take families and loved ones by surprise. It is also not unusual to hear, “I can’t believe they aren’t here anymore!” “I just spoke with them on the phone. How could this have happened?” “We just retired. We were going to do so much. We even planned a trip for next week!”
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.