Grief and mourning are natural responses to loss.
Grief is an individual’s internal emotional reaction to the loss of a person or thing in which a close bond has been formed. Grief can also include other major loss, such as job loss or the breakup of a relationship. Grief has several components: physical, behavioral, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual. Grief is often described by those that have gone through it as a prolonged heaviness and mental anguish. For some, it can be so pronounced that it affects a person’s physical self and can even present as illness. While grief is an expected and normal response to loss, severe or prolonged grief can cause problems.
What is normal grief?
Most people experience normal grief. This refers to grief that is eventually lessened as a person readjusts to their loss. Grief is usually not something one “recovers” from because the loss is never regained or replaced. Rather individuals describe their lives after loss as “different.” For some, it changes their entire identity and they will divide their lives into “before” the loss and “after” the loss.
What is abnormal grief?
Prolonged grief refers to a response to loss that lasts more than one year. Rather than the individual learning to adapt to their life without the lost person or thing, the bereaved person experiences ongoing longing for their loved one, so much so that their grief reaction intensifies to disrupt many of their close relationships and beliefs.
Grief can be chronic in that the individual has trouble finding closure and returning to normal activities over an extended period of time. It can also be delayed, whereby the individual postpones working through the grief process. Rather than accepting the loss, the individual chooses to avoid dealing with it. A small percentage of individuals, in particular for those who experience a very sudden and unexpected loss, experience an exaggerated or intense reaction such as major depression, nightmares, abnormal fears and thoughts of suicide during their grief process. Other symptoms may include sleep or appetite problems to isolation from other loved ones and difficulty functioning at home, school, and/or at work.
The risk factors for experiencing more serious symptoms of grief for a longer period of time are related to the survivor’s own physical and emotional health before the loss, the relationship between the bereaved and their loved one, as well as related to the nature of the death.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is known for her DABDA model for understanding grief. In her book on Death and Dying, she outlines Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance as the stages that individuals move between when dealing with either loss of loved one or one’s own mortality.
Denial– difficulty believing what has happened
Anger– questioning the fairness of the loss
Bargaining-wishing to make a deal with fate to gain more time with the one who was lost
Depression– the period when the bereaved person gets in touch with how very sad they are about losing their loved one
Acceptance-feeling some resolution to their grief and more ability to go on with their own life.
Grief and mourning are deeply personal and unique to each individual. Dr. Cherwony is here to help you get through this difficult and painful time. She will help you to regain your sense of self, to start to look forward to and plan things for your future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.
Call today for an appointment and to speak personally with Dr. Cherwony at 561-699-4639