Archive for January 2nd, 2012
When people talk about grieving, they often describe an experience akin to being at sea. Wave after wave of emotion envelops them, and just when they think they’re recovering, a new wave hits them. Yet with time, most people manage to reach equilibrium. While significant losses are never forgotten, the feelings of grief become less intense and more manageable.
The following experiences are all part of the normal spectrum of grieving and can last from six to 12 months.
Yearning. Survivors repeatedly want to reunite with the person who died in some way, and may even want to die themselves in order to be with their loved one.
Deep sadness. People often experience waves of deep sadness and regret about the loved one. Crying and even sobbing jags are also normal.
Other negative emotions. Anger, remorse, and guilt are all common negative emotions as well.
Vivid memories. It’s common to think of the deceased often and recall vivid memories of times together. Images of the deceased — or even the sound of a loved one’s voice — may emerge without warning.
Somatic disturbances. Grief affects people physically as well as mentally. It’s normal for people to have sleep problems, changes in appetite, digestive difficulties, dry mouth, or fatigue after a loss. Occasional bouts of restlessness and agitation are also common.
Disbelief. It takes people a long time to truly accept that a loved one has died. People often forget at times that a loved one is gone — until some reminder brings the reality searing back.
Apathy. It’s typical for people to withdraw or disengage at times while grieving. They may become irritable toward others.
Emotional surges . Although some of the worst emotions and disturbances ebb with time, the grieving process also involves surges of emotions. Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, and other significant events can trigger bouts of raw grief.
As if the normal process of grief were not challenging enough, the following events or factors may make it even harder. In some people, these factors can cause grief to become complicated and prolonged.
Conflict in relationships. People who had an ambivalent, angry, conflicted, or highly dependent relationship with the deceased may find it hard to grieve.
Multiple deaths. If the loss occurs in conjunction with deaths of other loved ones, the grieving process can become magnified.
Mental illness. People who already have depression, anxiety, or another mental illness may have an amplified response to a loss and experience a more intense bereavement.
Traumatic death. A death that was unexpected, untimely, traumatic, or violent sets the stage for a more difficult grieving process.
Caregiving. People who provided care to their loved ones before they died are likely to feel the loss more acutely than others, in part because they structured so much of their time to be with their loved ones. They may be haunted by images from the final days. In other cases, they may be at a loss to know how to spend their time.
Social isolation. People who have few friends, family members, or other sources of social support may feel abandoned as they navigate the grieving process. Elderly people who outlive their spouses and friends, for example, may suffer more because they are suffering relatively alone.
Hirsch M, ed. Coping with Grief and Loss: A Guide to Healing (Harvard Health Publications, 2010).Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )