Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On The Other Side Of Grief (continued 2)

What seems important is to recognize some of the signs of mourning and to know we will have a parallel process.

     Having dealt with grief from the inside out as a bereaved parent and a bereaved child, and from the other side of grief as a professional, there are a few other things I have learned.

            Sudden, shocking loss is one of the most difficult aspects of our humanness.  I am talking about any loss, not only death.  There is divorce, loss of jobs, loss of health and youth, moving, etc.  And the biggest surprise: Wonderful events always embody loss.  The birth of a child, marriage, a promotion, a new house and any success means leaving something behind.

            Most people move through grief in the context of family, friends and community.  Many with the help of their faith and church.  It is only a problem when a person gets stuck in one of the stages.  This brings me to the two most common questions asked.  First is "Well, how long will this take?" or "How long should it take?" Second is, "Is this normal?"

            In the attempt to answer these questions I have defined grief as either acute or chronic.  Acute grief is the normal, natural process that people move through.  Chronic grief is when the grieving process is shut down and stuck in a particular phase of the grieving process.  It doesn’t matter how or when this happens, if the process is shut down it will never be finished.

The first year is the hardest.  It is the hardest because it is the anniversary year.  Each holiday or special time is the first without the lost person, lost job, lost community, or whatever the particular loss might be.  Around the first year anniversary a marked change is usually evident.  Not that grieving is done, but the acute submersion is less.  I am deliberately not being very specific, because grief is so individualized.  To set time frames would compromise the respect and dignity of a person's right to grieve in their own time and in their own way.  There simply is no logical sequence to all the feelings - they come when they come, and not on schedule.

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