Working Through Grief: It’s Different for Everyone

Posted on January 1, 2010. Filed under: family, friends, lifestyles, News, women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Working through griefA death of a loved one, a job loss, the end of a marriage, an illness or disability. Everyone faces losses and grief, but the toll that grief can take on the mind and body can catch many people by surprise.

The December issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource provides an overview of grief — a normal reaction to loss. In years past, grief often was described as following a certain pattern or orderly progression from one feeling to another.

But there is no one way to grieve. People who are grieving experience many different emotions in any number of combinations. They may include denial, sadness, anger, confusion, despair and even guilt. Physical reactions can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, a drop in energy level, body aches and pain or the development or worsening of an illness.

Time spent grieving varies, too. Some people take months to fully accept or adapt to a loss. For others, the process may take years. To help cope with grief:

— Express feelings: Suppressing thoughts and emotions may prevent working through grief. Friends, family or members of the religious community often can be a source of support and comfort. Other options are support groups or grief counselors.

— Delay any major decisions or changes: Decisions that affect life and lifestyle, such as housing changes or new ways of handling finances, should wait a while. Advice from a trusted family member or friend, financial adviser or attorney may be helpful.

— Take care of personal health: Eating right, getting adequate sleep and limiting alcohol are important. Regular exercise can relieve stress and anxiety.

— Be patient: Expecting to simply “get over” grief is unrealistic. Ups and downs may last for weeks or months following a loss. Though some feelings of loss may never fully go away, the most intense signs and symptoms of grief typically diminish over time, within six months or so. Grief that is prolonged and debilitating may be a sign of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. A doctor should be consulted for treatment options.

Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource is published monthly to help women enjoy healthier, more productive lives. Revenue from subscriptions is used to support medical research at Mayo Clinic. To subscribe, please call 800-876-8633, extension 9751, (toll-free) or visit http://www.bookstore.mayoclinic.com.

We also want to add this brief article from:
7 STAGES OF GRIEF

1. SHOCK & DENIAL-
You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

2. PAIN & GUILT-
As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

3. ANGER & BARGAINING-
Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

You may rail against fate, questioning “Why me?” You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair (“I will never drink again if you just bring him back”)

4. “DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

5. THE UPWARD TURN-
As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.

6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.

7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.

You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.

7 STAGES OF GRIEF

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