Friday, June 27, 2014
GRIEF AND LOSSES
Losing someone or something may result in some certain kind of behaviours, manifestations and experiences that are generally painful and life-changing. Different kinds of people respond to loss in different ways that are usually not subject to the control of the victim; at least at the initial process. GRIEF Grief, according to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary is defined as: “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement; also : a cause of such suffering”. It is the intense feeling of sorrow after experiencing a loss; especially the loss of someone. The feeling of grief goes beyond ‘sorrow’ itself. It can manifests itself in various unimaginable ways. There is no grief greater than the other. Grief is Grief and it is unique to every individual experiencing it. Besides loosing someone, people grief over other kinds of losses and situations. For example: ▪ Divorce or relationship breakup ▪ A Miscarriage ▪ Loss of a friendship/Relationship ▪ Loss of health ▪ Losing a job ▪ Loss of financial stability ▪ Loss of a dream and ambition ▪ Death of a Pet ▪ Retirement ▪ A loved one’s serious illness ▪ Loss of safety after Trauma ▪ Loss of freedom ▪ Lose of a home As mentioned earlier, regardless of the cause of the grief, It is still what it is – Grief!; Without discounting the extremities and multifacetedness of the grief usually experienced by people who have lost someone who is considered dear and precious. Grief is a process that is usually expected to get better with time. However, this thinking in isolation is incorrect. Grief can only get better with consciously taking steps to do positive things/acts towards recovery, and even that does not guarantee a full recovery or complete restoration. Note the word ‘positive’ – that means you have to check the ecology of your actions and decisions by weighing its impact on your envireonment – the people around you. Those positive actions will certainly exclude self destructive acts even if it gives you a temporary relief and escape from your present reality. Grief, I can tell you has a mind of its own. That is why most of the time you never see it coming, it is usually unplanned and unprepared for. It can manifest in the most unlikely places and situations as long as there are triggers. Unfortunately, even the triggers are very unpredictable, you can never completely tell what is capable of triggering that overwhelming feeling of grief. For example, someone who has lost his/her spouse may start manisfesting grief when the spouse’s favourite team looses a match. It is not so much of the team loosing but a trigger to the feelings of loosing the spouse. There are so many factors that can affect the grieving process and how you grieve: - Spiritual Faith: your religious convictions can help deal with the process of grieving. It is a good source of support and solace for a grieving soul. Spiritual acts such as prayers and meditations have the capacity to lighten the weight of the grief. Nevertheless, Grief itself can make you question the very foundation of your belief system. It can either make you completely fall out of faith or make you more grounded in your faith. Having a strong faith provides cushion when grief comes. - Support System: Friends and Families are a good source of inspiration, support and comfort during the grief process. It always helps to have genuine and positive people around you especially at the initial onset of grief. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, some people may handle their grief better by staying away from a lot of people; but there has to be a balance. You need to keep a few people you can trust around and also make out time to be alone for a time of sobriety, retrospection and reflection, especially on the object of your loss and your experiences of being without. Joining a group of people who share the same experience can also be therapeutic in dealing with your and the resultant grief. Professional Counselling and Retreats also provide great resources for coping wit grief. - Coping Mechanism/Strategy: Coping Mechanisms for dealing with grief are the conscious acts and decisions taken to help deal with grief. The adopted coping mechanisms should be conscious, positive and constructive. Negative and destructive coping mechanisms are illusions because they are very temporal and often lead to a destructive end. Coping mechanisms can be visiting the spa, exercising, studying, talking about your grief and losses, writing etc. whatever makes you feel better and ecologically appropriate. Some of these mechanisms may only be transient, what is more important is that it provides soothing for that period. Finding a happy moment during grief is a blessing…. Embrace it! Elisabeth Ross Kubler on her work on ‘Death and Dying’ stated The Stages of grief’ as highlighted below: ▪ Denial — As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. What this means is that the person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of his/her situation, and begins to develop a false, preferable reality. ▪ Anger— "Why me? It's not fair!"; "How can this happen to me?"; '"Who is to blame?"; "Why would God let this happen?" Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Anger can manifest itself in different ways. People can be angry with themselves, or with others, or at a higher power, and especially those who are close to them. It is important to remain detached and nonjudgmental when dealing with a person experiencing anger from grief. ▪ Bargaining — "I'll do anything for a few more years."; "I will give my life savings if…" The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Other times, they will use anything valuable as a bargaining chip against another human agency to extend or prolong the life they live. Psychologically, the individual is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just do something to buy more time…" People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example "Can we still be friends?" when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it is a matter of life or death. ▪ Depression — "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"; "I'm going to die soon so what's the point?"; "I miss my loved one, why go on?" During the fourth stage, the grieving person begins to understand the certainty of death. Much like the existential concept of The Void, the idea of living becomes pointless. Things begin to lose meaning to the griever. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and sullen. This process allows the grieving person to disconnect from things of love and affection, possibly in an attempt to avoid further trauma. Depression could be referred to as the dress rehearsal for the 'aftermath'. It is a kind of acceptance with emotional attachment. It is natural to feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty when going through this stage. Feeling those emotions shows that the person has begun to accept the situation. Oftentimes, this is the ideal path to take, to find closure and make their ways to the fifth step, Acceptance. ▪ Acceptance — "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it." In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. This stage varies according to the person's situation. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief. This typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable mindset All these feelings are very real during grief, however it is in no predictable order. Any of these feelings can creep up at any unpredictable time. Grief is a roller coaster ride and does not come in any sequential stage. In my personal journey with grief and my experiences with others as they grieve, I have observed that not everyone goes through all these processes depending on the individual and the circumstances surrounding the loss. Some would never experience denial of their loss and some also would never come to terms or accept the loss of their loved one. It is possible to negotiate and bargain with the reality of the loss by making adjustments to a new normal of living without…. But not accepting the farthest justification of the loss by any slight chance. How long does one grieve one’s loss….? Are there any justification to how long you grieve a spouse of 40years or 5 years? A child of 25years or an 6 months old fetus? The loss is a single time occurrence but the aftermath may take a lifetime. The grief process may never end, it may live for as long there is life and can actually even become a part of its victim.