Grief, of one sort or another, comes to all of us at some point. We can be tempted to pretend this doesn’t happen, but it’s so much better to deal with it up-front.
In this article you can read about:
- The different sorts of grief
THERE ARE DIFFERENT SORTS OF GRIEF
You may assume that grief only comes when someone dies, but any major loss can give rise to grief. For instance, losing your job, or your house can be an immense loss and will result in grief and mourning. The same goes if someone is injured and left disabled, without the use of one or more of their faculties. Loss can leave you completely disorientated, in a state of denial or panic-stricken – or a host of other emotions. Be aware of the effect of major losses on those around you. They could do with your support to get through this.
THERE ARE STAGES IN THE PROCESS OF GRIEF
When someone suffers a loss it’s important to understand that there will be stages in their movement through the grieving process. These ‘stages’ however, don’t necessarily follow in succession. The bereaved person may move back and forth through these stages, sometimes even within a few minutes. It takes time – sometimes quite a long time – to settle, finally, with acceptance, and people are very individual in how they deal with this.
DENIAL means that the bereaved person acts as if the loss hasn’t occurred and appears not to be upset. There may even be a strange euphoria, brought about by the shock. Don’t be alarmed by this. The bereaved one hasn’t taken leave of their senses. This is just a psychological mechanism to enable them to come to terms with the loss at their own pace, so don’t try and bring them down to ‘reality’. Let them take their time.
ANGER is natural when something horrible happens. This may be directed at medical staff (in the case of death or disability) or at anyone at all who could even slightly be seen to be blameworthy. Or the person could lash out at anyone who comes near. Be brave if you’re on the receiving end and don’t take it personally. It’s healthy, even if it’s unpleasant
BARGAINING – even people who don’t believe in any form of spirituality can resort to bargaining, where you promise to do or be anything, rather than suffer the loss. The bereaved one may go continually back into the past, full of ‘if only’s’ and ‘what if’s’. This is the stage where the person will do anything to avoid the pain of the loss. There’s no point trying to reason anyone out of these feelings, but reassuring them that nothing is their fault may help a little.
DEPRESSION. This is a state of deep sadness, even despair, where the reality of the loss truly sinks in. In this stage it’s hard to believe that you’ll ever get better. The bereaved one may want to be alone, be unable to engage in ordinary life, and may not want to live. This is a natural response – it is not a sign of illness, as clinical depression. Of course a great loss can bring anyone right down to rock bottom. However, like all the stages, this one does not last forever. Try not to be alarmed if you know someone is in this stage. Let them have times alone and be there with a hug, a hot meal and quiet companionship.
ACCEPTANCE – this does not mean that you’re ‘okay’ with the loss but it means you’re learning to live with it. You may never ‘get over it’ completely – how could you? But you get used to the fact things have changed, the good days start to outweigh the bad and new, interesting elements come into your life. When someone is in this stage, gently encourage them and give them things to be interested in. Life goes on and there is still so much to enjoy.
DON’T AVOID THE SUBJECT
No-one likes the idea of grief, but it’s a fact of life. If you know someone is bereaved, don’t avoid them. You can’t fix how they feel, nor should you try, but just be there. Don’t pretend to understand if you don’t, and don’t try to change how they feel. Tell them you’re available to talk, or anything else, and maybe give practical help if it’s wanted. Place no time limit on how long you’re prepared to be there for them. Things often get worse a while after the loss, and that’s when people seem to forget, withdraw and get on with their lives, leaving the bereaved one to cope alone. Recognise the loss and give love and caring – at a time like this human bonds and warm presence are priceless.
HOW WE CAN HELP
In this article we’ve looked at different sorts of grief, the stages of grief and how not to avoid the subject. On Grief Awareness Day, give special thought to anyone who’s suffering loss or bereavement. If you’re the person experiencing loss, realise that however bleak you feel you are not alone. If you need help, either for yourself or for someone you care about, just contact one of our sympathetic Readers who will be there with more help than you can imagine.
PUBLISHED: 17 August 2017