C J TALKS ABOUT: Grief — To Ignore Is To Deny, So What?
<continued from “Grief: WHAT is it? WHY is it?”>
Grief can be defined as the emotional reaction to a loss.
Mourning can be described as the process of adaptation or adjustment to the loss.
It is necessary to point the difference out between those words, which are often used interchangeably.
They are related but not synonymous.
In the last post, I talked about grief as being a ‘necessary evil’ due to the fact that we assign or attach value and make emotional investments in other people (or things, ideas, or abstractions). When we lose someone important in our personal lives, we react at first. We are hurt, saddened, devastated. But we cannot remain in this state of being in perpetuity; we need to find ways of processing this loss and evolving into a personal sense of wholeness again. Mourning is the actual meat and potatoes of this term we call “grief work.”
When someone we love or cherish dies we are filled with an initial angst, which seems to take over us; the responses run the gamut from emotional pain and sadness, to depression, physical disrepair, and social isolation. We must be allowed a way to express how we feel by accepting that the loss has occurred before we can move on.
Moving on requires of us to adapt to our loss. Imagine a circle containing yourself and all of the other important people in your life, holding hands. Suddenly, one of those people drops out of the circle, leaving a hole or a space where they once stood. The circle has been broken and there is an unmistakable void left — THAT void is what we have to process or adjust if we are to adapt our life to go forward. The circle, after time and adaptation, eventually rejoins and closes as the void fills.
As time passes, the initial grief responses quiet. We begin to heal. This is not to say that reminders of your loss will not remain or that your loved one becomes forgotten or any less precious to you. Those will always be there, with you. Sometimes, even years later, something will trigger the response and suddenly you find you are swept up into a wave of sadness, tears, guilt, regret, or loneliness. This is normal, and should be expected…and allowed to take its course, but not take over your existence.
If the significant other were the household breadwinner, you would be forced to work through the problem created by the missing financial support. Eventually, you would be able to resolve the issue because you simply MUST. Having food, shelter, clothing, and necessities of LIFE demand it.
To stop in your tracks, to stop time, to deny your grief and the mourning or grief work required in dealing with your loss complicates grief. (SEE also: Complicated grief)In spite of a normal feeling that your world has ended, it has not. And it is not with insensitivity that I say here: life must and DOES go on. So the ties that once bound us, the investments we made dissolve at death. We must separate ourselves from the deceased in a healthy way. It is not possible to further invest in them after death. So mourning requires us to resolve the void in forming new attachments or making new investments over time. After all, we remain in the realm of the living, whether it feels awful or not.
The way to recovery and what the ‘tasks of mourning’ will be depend on something called “the death surround” and circumstantial factors unique to the death. I plan to speak to these at some point in the future posts.
To deny our grief, to ignore the grief work is not normal and can lead to self-destructive behaviors as a result.
Finding ways to express your grief and get on with the processing of your loss is a phenomenal task… but if it has overwhelmed your daily living activities to the extent that you are neglecting to care for yourself, turning to substances or over-indulging in alcohol for self-medication, or thinking of ending your own life you MUST GET HELP. Whether it is help from our supportive family and friends, or help through a professional, trained to help in crisis situations, GET HELP. Needing or seeking help does not make you appear weak or crazy. The burden of coping with the many aspects surrounding your particular loss is often one that can overwhelm us and it is most understandable to need assistance in dealing with so much. To be able to recognize that you need help is a HUGE first step in getting back to living and eventually enjoying life again, as you were meant to.
< coming soon: C J Talks About: Funerals, Memorials & How They Benefit The Living >
**I hope to add a “Resources” post in the very near future, however, since there is not yet a page for that here on my site, I would invite you to personally e-mail me with questions you have or to send to me any info or links you have found to be useful, as it pertains to our conversation about Grief Recovery.**
You may contact me at: email@example.com. I will do my very best in replying to your messages in a timely, helpful way. If I cannot answer your question, I will certainly try to point you to someone or some place that may be able to help.
**I am not a licensed medical or psychological professional and do not purport to be. The advice that may be inferred within my posting is general and not intended to function as a substitute for services provided by legally licensed professionals. Please seek professional help immediately if you are experiencing a crisis or call 911 for an emergency.
©2013, C.S. Thompson.
- Helping Children and Teens Deal With Grief (parenting.answers.com)
- Shared via Grief Healing – Grief Healing: Coping with Sorrow in Grief (griefrevelations.com)
- How to Help a Grieving Person (littleblogoflettinggo.com)
- Preparing for Grief (everydayhealth.com)
- Book Review: “Griefprints” by Radha Stern – In a book about death and grief, Stern explains that “Grief is like fingerprints; everyone grieves in their own way” as they deal with death (sevenponds.com)
- Loss: 4 Ways to Move Forward and Counter If-Only Guilt (psychologytoday.com)
- Pet Grief: National Day of Mourning Established (lawandmore.typepad.com)
- The Unique Bond (joydavy2013.wordpress.com)
- Rebuilding Life in the Aftermath of Grief (commentarymagazine.com)