Grief

September 26, 2018 | Pennsylvania Counseling Services, Inc.

grief
noun
the anguish experienced after significant loss, usually the death of a beloved person.
DICTIONARY.APA.ORG/GRIEF

Overview

Grief is a deep experience of pain, sorrow and sadness, resulting from loss. This mourning process effects us emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually, and can last for days, months, years or even a lifetime. Often, our significant relationships and meaningful life activities suffer greatly as we grieve.

Myths

Grief can be mysterious, especially as we attempt to sort through the pain we feel. While we try to pinpoint the losses that are causing our pain, we may form incorrect assumptions that lead to confusion, rather than offering a sense of hope.

The following myths are adapted from Mel Lawrenz and Daniel Green’s grief research:

MYTH #1: IF YOU GET YOUR FEELINGS OUT, YOU’LL RESOLVE YOUR GRIEF.

Even though feeling and expressing the loss helps you to cope, it’s not an all-around cure for overcoming your suffering.

MYTH #2: GRIEF IS RESOLVED WHEN YOU CAN PUT THE LOSS OUT OF YOUR MIND.

A major sign of grief resolution involves being able to think about the loss realistically, without experiencing an overwhelming sense of despair.

MYTH #3: MOURNING IS USUALLY OVER WITHIN 3 MONTHS AND ALMOST CERTAINLY WITHIN A YEAR.

Based on differences in personality style, background and coping abilities, the length of the mourning process varies from person to person.

MYTH #4: GRIEF GETS EASIER WITH TIME.

Time truly heals. However, grieving often comes and goes. Grief can even be triggered years later by significant memories.

MYTH #5: THE INTENSITY AND LENGTH OF OUR GRIEF SHOWS HOW MUCH WE LOVE THE PERSON OR THING WE LOST.

Everyone needs to process their grief differently. By believing this myth, you will experience the pressure to perform for others. This only adds to the difficult struggle.

MYTH #6: EACH LOSS IS GRIEVED SEPARATELY.

Loss involves a number of variables that are most often dealt with simultaneously.

MYTH #7: LIFE IS FAIR.

Reality is, life can be painful, hard and difficult.

Stages

Through working with terminally ill patients, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. developed and popularized the five stages of grief. She observed that a dying patient’s grief often paralleled that of a survivor. While these stages are the experience of many mourners, they are not necessarily sequential in process.

Grief can be mysterious, especially as we attempt to sort through the pain we feel. While we try to pinpoint the losses that are causing our pain, we may form incorrect assumptions that lead to confusion, rather than offering a sense of hope.

The following myths are adapted from Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief:

DENIAL STAGE
Denial is the initial experience of shock or disbelief.
“I can’t believe this has happened to me. There must be some mistake.”

BARGAINING STAGE
Bargaining is dialogue with a higher power in attempt to undo the loss.
“God, if only you will take away this pain, then I’ll do anything you ask.”

ANGER STAGE
Confronted with the futility of bargaining, the mourner becomes angry at the loss, at the cause and at God.
“How could you (the cause or a higher power) have let this happen to me, of all people? What have I done to deserve this?”

DEPRESSION STAGE
The reality of the lack of control sets in.
“I have no reason to go on living. My life is over.”

ACCEPTANCE STAGE
Acceptance is embracing the reality of the loss and the change in lifestyle.
“In spite of the loss, I’m now ready to pursue new meaningful relationships and experiences.”

Help

  • personal presence
    Family and friends may be uncomfortable discussing issues of loss. It’s difficult to know what to say, how to act or how to help, so family or friends may withdraw or refuse to mention it, often acting like nothing has happened. However, a listening ear, an empathetic heart and a loving presence helps a person in pain cope effectively.

  • understanding and patience
    A compassionate and trustworthy supporter provides the greatest source of comfort for someone in pain. Grief creates a need to express strong emotions and verbalize private thoughts. However, a friend encouraging the person in pain to discuss past memories (both positive and negative) offers one of the most valuable gifts in the healing process.

  • practical assistance
    Dealing with grief can be overwhelming. The long-term lifestyle changes will forever impact every area of life. Asking for assistance with household responsibilities (meals, housecleaning, running errands), important decision-making and finding appropriate community resources certainly helps the grieving person put the pieces of life back together again.

Even though we may understand grief and all it encompasses, it’s impossible to come up with a formula for making the pain and struggle of loss disappear. We’re continuously growing and learning as we confront the changes in our lives. Grief is, in many ways, a life-long process — a process that we may embrace as we recover from difficult life circumstances.

If you or someone you know is may need help dealing with grief, we can help. Check out our outpatient services page for a full range of treatment options including individual and family counseling.

2018-12-12T20:25:32+00:00