Tuesday, September 27, 2016

On The Other Side Of Grief (Stage 6)

Stage 6

            The final stage is called "In Memoriam."  This stage is not mentioned much in the literature but seems to belong because so much has been created out of significant losses. It is the need to do something creative, useful, and meaningful - to create some personal meaning out of an event that seems meaningless and often absurd.  There are many examples of this, such things as foundations, support groups, books, etc.  This kind of writing is mine.

Some final notes:  Grief cannot be denied; only delayed.  When people try to deny and suppress it grief shows up in physical symptoms, due to the stress of so much control.  The physical symptoms most closely related to grief are any number of chronic upper respiratory illnesses.  The hard part is that these are also very real diseases.  It is more an association then a one to one cause/effect.  But over the years I have noticed that people who have experienced loss, and not grieved, tend to catch cold more often and their colds last longer.    

Grief comes in waves that are relatively short in duration, and very intense.  This intense expression of deep feelings leaves one feeling dazed and stunned - briefly - then there is some relief, until the next wave.  Between the waves, life goes on as usual.  Eventually the waves of grief get further apart, less intense and less devastating - like a receding tide.  Grief and guilt go hand-in-hand. Guilt is woven throughout the process.  It is so profoundly a part of our humanness and is the result of being imperfect and often impotent.  As we face our limitations, the guilt gradually disappears.  There is so much in life that we have no control over and no say about.  We are stuck with what life deals us.  Our freedom is in how we choose to deal with that hand.

            Given all the possibilities of how the process can go awry, most people somehow manage to get through and recover.  Usually with grace and dignity.  It is a continual tribute to the human spirit, and I am always impressed.

Arleah K. Shechtman

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