Barrington H. Brennen
e all grieve
when a loved one, friend, or acquaintance dies. It is always
painful to face the death of someone you know.
Unfortunately, many do not understand the dynamics of grief,
thus when trying help someone to heal they cause more pain
and suffering. They expect the one who is grieving to "snap
out of it" or to "get over it." The truth is you never get
over it. On the other hand you can learn how to cope and how
to resume normal life even when facing loss.
It is important
to note that people mourn when there is a loss of anything,
not just of a relative or friend, but also the loss of the
ability to function the way they always do. For example:
children lose baby teeth, a pet dies, a child graduates from
high school, a lover abandons you, a friend leaves you, a
relative moves away, a spouse succumbs to cancer, retirement
occurs, you are fired from the job, a leg is amputated.
process can last from two weeks to two years. There is no
required length for grieving. We all grieve in different
ways and for different lengths. Ivan Chan, a specialist in
dealing with grief and loss states "It is also quite normal
to be able to experience joy, contentment, and humor even
amidst the worst loss. Factors contributing to soothing
grief include strong social support, optimism, and physical
exercise. Most people recover from grief and can continue
with their usual activities, while still feeling moments of
sadness, within six months. Some people feel better after
about a year to a year and a half. For others, their grief
may be longer lasting, continuing for years without seeming
to improve or with any break, and this may be due to factors
before the loss such as pre-existing depression or high
dependency on the departed."
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dies, who was ill we do mourn, but the intensity of the loss
might not as greatly as when there is unexpected death. This
brings me to the topic of complicated grief. Complicated
grief occurs when there is an unexpected or violent death,
suicide of a loved one, lack of a support system or
friendships, traumatic childhood experiences, such as abuse
or neglect, childhood separation anxiety, close or dependent
relationship to the deceased person, being unprepared for
the death; in the case of a child's death, the number of
remaining children and, lack of resilience or adaptability
to life changes.
Here is what one
psychologist gives as the signs and symptoms of complicated
focus on the loss and reminders of the loved one
longing or pining for the deceased
accepting the death
Preoccupation with your sorrow
Bitterness about your loss
to enjoy life
Depression or deep sadness
Difficulty moving on with life
carrying out normal routines
Withdrawing from social activities
that life holds no meaning or purpose
Irritability or agitation
trust in others
When these signs
and symptoms are present it is best to talk to someone.
However, when the following symptoms are evident, it is wise
to seek professional help from someone who is trained and
knowledgeable about grief and loss:
can cause numerous complications. They include: depression,
suicidal thoughts or behaviors, increased risk of heart
disease, cancer and high blood pressure, anxiety, long-term
impairment in daily living, post-traumatic stress disorder,
substance abuse, smoking or nicotine use. Some of these
complications may not only require psychological help by
We must be more
sensitive and understanding with someone who is grieving.
Avoid saying things that can cause further pain. Avoid
saying "God knows best," "just pray about it," or "snap out
of it" or "donít cry" or "donít talk about it anymore."
These are myths and unrealistic expectations when grieving.
Just be there for the person. Allow them to grieve.
Encourage them to talk about their loss. Encourage them to
cry and feel their pain. This is best for recovery.
SEE TIPS ON GRIEVING