Dealing with Grief

Grieving AngelDealing with Grief
Grief and tragedy has deeply wounded our nation, world, our leaders and us. Now is a time when we look forward into the future, to new beginnings and a clean slate. It also affirms that this year will be better than the last. So in writing about grief, I would truly like that this would be the last topic I would like to cover on this subject for now. However, sadly we cannot choose the time when tragedy strikes our Nation, family or even ourselves.

Grief has been in the news since the media realized that grief sells, right next to sex being number one. As I recently have been told that’s why pornography is number one. Visual stimulation and vivid fantasies played out that in real life seems too taboo to realize.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is about to be released. Ten thousand psychiatrists who meet in groups, and began in January 2010 to develop this manual, covered this very topic. In this manual, every mental disease is labeled and characterized and the criterion that’s needed to make a diagnosis is documented.

Most controversial is the recommendation by a group of psychiatrists who suggest that “grief” should be labeled as a disease in a matter of two weeks after occurrence. This condition is referred to as “abnormal grief”, “prolonged grief disorder”, “traumatic grief” or most frequently, “complicated grief”.

Virtually every grieving person experiences profound sorrow and sadness, disbelief, loneliness, anger, insomnia, inability to concentrate and an unwillingness to engage in normal conversation. Grief may express itself thru crying and wailing or complete silence and withdrawal.

   

The key question is, “How quickly should a mourner no longer grieve?” Labeling grief as an illness in after as little as two weeks may lead to inappropriate and excessive use of anti-depressants and the recommendation for grief counseling that has been shown to be of little value in the healing process, to except for those with mental disease is wrongly unattainable. A well renowned psychiatrist Elizabeth Ross was the first to describe the characteristics of profound grief.

First comes the denial, (this cannot be happening to me). Then the anger, (we must blame someone, ourselves or even God). Next comes the bargaining, (if only things get better, I promise that I will do something in return). Then depression, (profoundly glum, do not want to be involved in life, and even have thoughts of suicide). And finally comes acceptance, (understand that death is a part of the circle of life and, despite the loss, become peaceful and able to function in a community). With acceptance comes gradual recovery.

Death, birth, weddings, celebration or even illness, is a structural part of life. But whenever death comes, it is always a traumatic and life changing experience for those left behind. Because grief is natural, there has been a backlash against the new recommendation that life continues in the same manner as before and should not be diagnosed as early as two weeks. Many experts believe that a much longer time (6 to 12 months or more) is needed before continued grief becomes abnormal, in which case symptoms are similar to any chronic depressive disorder.

The question lies in “How do we deal with grief or support a grieving person?” Much of the advice given is often incorrect. Becoming distracted, going back to work and ignoring the pain is not necessarily unemotional. Feeling very sad, vulnerable and lost are natural and sharing these intimate feelings with those who love you will help with the healing process.

Grief is also difficult to watch and a grieving person is particularly difficult to support. Many of us wish to avoid thinking about death at all costs, find it uncomfortable to be around those who are mourning, and tend to stay away – a mistake. Supporting a person in mourning does not mean continuing with life as normal or reassuring that all will be better soon. A true friend will simply be there and do nothing but offer support, love and kindness. Let people deal with grief in their own unique way. Be particular supportive in the weeks and months following a tragedy, when everyone else has gone home, life has returned to normal, or when the mourner is alone and not coping.

As our hearts and thoughts reach out to those most affected, we should all understand that every life is touched by tragedy, be it a life threatening illness or the death of a loved one. Having insights into grieving will help make the process understandable and promote eventual healing.

Article Credit; ArcaMax by Dr. David Lipschitz

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