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Loss & Grief Loss & Grief

 

Loss & Grief are a 'fact of life'. Understanding why & how doesn't make it any easier. There is nothing that can totally prepare you for this experience; nothing that will prevent it occuring. Being aware of what is happening or probably going to happen will at least enable you to know that it is 'normal' & to be expected. It may also assist you in your understanding of others' grieving, thus providing you with the capacity to assist and display empathetic, practical help when they might find themselves 'weighed down' by the experience.

 

Types of Loss

  • Loss of a loved one, through death
  • Loss of a marriage or relationship, through divorce or separation (particularly a long standing/interwoven & interdependant type)
  • Loss of children through custody matters; even if it relates to 'perception' of loss, &/or reduced contact
  • Loss of material or financial security
  • Loss of a job - especially being sacked or retrenched 
  • Loss of 'freedom' (possibly incarceration)
  • Loss of a limb or the use of a limb; one of the senses eg. sight or hearing
  • Loss of cognitive functioning & an awareness of same 
  • Retirement (particularly 'forced' retirement)
  • Non-renewal of 'contract'
  • 'Sacking' from club
  • Permanent injury
  • Loss of a 'beloved' pet

These are some examples of 'loss' that many experience. By no means is this meant as a 'complete' list. Remember - "LOSS IS LOSS" & Grieving is as a result.


The Grieving Process

  • Denial, numbness, & shock - It is a normal reaction to an immediate or sudden loss or the realisation or perception of such loss. It 'protects' the individual from the 'full' emotional & psychological intensity of the loss.
  • Bargaining - A period where the individual is rather pre-occupied with how they could have prevented the loss or what could have been done. Often they will imagine how things 'could have been'; imagining that which can now never be. Unconsciously they are attempting to psycholocially 'bargain' or 'broker a deal' for the fulfillment of this 'impossible' dream. The danger here is that, if unresolved, strong feelings of guilt & remorse can consume the individual.
  • Depression - Symptoms of 'Depression' may develop when the full acceptance and extent of the loss is acknowledged. Anergia (lack of energy), poor concentration, sleep & appetite disturbances & 'sudden' tearful episodes are common signs of this 'Reactive Depression'. The individual may feel lonely, isolated, empty & full of 'self-pity'. Unfortunately, experiencing depression or depressive symptoms is not only part of the process of grieving, but an essential stage for many. It is when this is experienced that the person may begin to 'move on' with their own life.
  • Anger - 'Reactive Anger' may result from feelings of 'powerlessness' &/or 'helplessness'. It is not uncommon & can be as a result of feeling 'abandoned'; even if this is 'unrealistic'. Anger & blame toward 'God' or a spiritual identity for this apparent injustice and can be followed by feelings of guilt - secondary & as a consequence of the anger invoked. Both anger  guilt are 'normal' reactions in this stage.
  • Acceptance - Time & the passage of the feelings & emotions in the process above will ultimately lead to the acceptance of the loss. There is no particular time frame for this, though certainly the successful transitions will enable timely & effective resolution. This acceptance is not mere acknowledgement of loss, but serves as a tool for personal growth & development of the individual. The grieving process actually supports, and somewhat comforts the individual and therefore gives rise to the development of coping skills & a greater understanding of themselves. It should therefore be viewed as a 'positive' experience, despite the variety of possible tragic reasons for the grief.

Things to help you cope with loss & resolve your grief

  • Express your sorrow - your grief - cry, scream, 'let go' ... Many cultures, particularly those with overtly demonstrative emotional expression such as of the mediterranian region, are well versed in this type of behaviour & find great healing in the process. Remember, however, that anger that results in aggression &/or violence IS NOT part of 'healthy' expressions of grief. Be careful not to 'cross the line' into an area of 'asocial' behaviour. 
  • Communicate your feelings with your loved ones or those with whom you are close.
  • Do not feel guilty for how you react or respond to your loss. Always be mindful though of the pitfalls of inappropriate behaviour, as noted above, and any attempt to justify this as 'grieving appropriately'. 
  • Keep a journal - write down your feelings, your thoughts, your memories and the stages of grief as you pass through them.
  • Take time to rest - try to get sufficient sleep.
  • Attempt to maintain a healthy diet.
  • Do not feel 'required' or 'expected' to react in any certain way or according to how others might imply or state you should. It is your grief and your mind that is experiencing it in your own way; it is not anybody elses...'even if you share share the same loss'. 
  • Take time to work your way through your grief. Do not put pressure on yourself or allow others to pressure you. Similarly, do not 'linger too long' or become 'stuck'....remember it is a 'process', and as such, needs to be 'worked through'. 
  • Be aware of some of those reactions to loss that can be potentially 'negative' - blame, anger, aggression. Do not necessarily suppress them, though don't let them 'take hold' or 'cause any collateral damage'. 
  • Seek help if you feel things are getting 'too much', or you are unable to cope or if you feel significantly 'depressed'. Similarly, if you feel you are 'stuck' in a particular stage of grieving, seek out someone who might 'help you move on'. 
  • Try, as best as possible, to avoid 'self-imposed' social alienation or isolation. Do not 'shun' your friends &/or family and do not 'lock yourself away'. 
  • Try not to seek solace or comfort in substance abuse ie. drugs&/or alcohol.

 

Should you have concerns regarding any issue relating to your 'mental or physical well-being', 'Kick off' strongly recommend you seek professional assistance. This may entail contacting your GP or similar clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor etc.). You may also contact the appropriate agency or service that might assist you. Irrespective of your choice, ensure you see someone who might help. 



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