One week ago today I lost my grandfather. His passing was sudden and unexpected. During the past week I have seen many different reactions to loss, and phases of grieving. I thought I would share a few words on grieving, one of the toughest emotional states we can face.
The following excerpts are from the A.D.A.M. medical encyclopedia.
“Grief is a reaction to a major loss. It is most often an unhappy and painful emotion.
Grief may be triggered by the death of a loved one. People also can experience grief if they have an illness for which there is no cure, or a chronic condition that affects their quality of life. The end of a significant relationship may also cause a grieving process.
Everyone feels grief in their own way. However, there are common stages to the process of mourning. It starts with recognizing a loss and continues until a person eventually accepts that loss. People’s responses to grief will be different, depending on the circumstances of the death.
There can be five stages of grief. These reactions might not occur in a specific order, and can (at times) occur together. Not everyone experiences all of these emotions:
- Denial, disbelief, numbness
- Anger, blaming others
- Bargaining (for instance “If I am cured of this cancer, I will never smoke again.”)
- Depressed mood, sadness, and crying
- Acceptance, coming to terms
People who are grieving may have crying spells, some trouble sleeping, and lack of productivity at work.
Family and friends can offer emotional support during the grieving process. Sometimes outside factors can affect the normal grieving process, and people might need help from:
- Mental health specialists
- Self-Help groups
- Social workers
The acute phase of grief usually lasts up to 2 months. Some milder symptoms may last for a year or longer. Psychological counseling may help a person who is unable to face the loss (absent grief reaction), or who has depression with grieving.
It may take a year or longer to overcome strong feelings of grief, and to accept the loss.
Grief should not be prevented because it is a healthy response to loss. Instead, it should be respected. Those who are grieving should have support to help them through the process.”
I feel that too often, we deny our feelings to maintain propriety and function in a competitive world. When feelings are suppressed, they lead to bodily symptoms such as muscle tension, poor digestion and illness. Strive to recognize and process strong feelings. Let go of what others may feel or expect from you and treat yourself with compassion. Know that you are loved and supported no matter what emotional state you are in. Listen to your ‘gut feelings’. Take deep breaths frequently.