Grief Support

griefsupportIntroduction

Grief can be an all-consuming emotion. People often feel numb, unable to carry out normal daily activities, and a sense of isolation. Grief can produce nightmares, a loss of appetite, dryness of mouth, and sleep disorders and intense loneliness.

Grief generally involves a range of behavioral and emotional responses to a loss. Even hallucinatory experiences may be normal early in grieving process.

Individuals vary in how they deal with grief but most do experience the five stages of grief identified by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. They include the following:

  1. Denial and Isolation.
 At first people tend to deny the loss has taken place. At this point, one may withdraw from their normal social contacts.
  2. Anger. 
One may then display anger toward the individual who is deceased or anger direct to the world around them. Anger can also be directed at the individual who is grieving for allowing the death to take place, or being unable to prevent the death.
  3. Bargaining. 
At this stage an individual may attempt to make bargains with God, seeking to offer something or some action for the return of the individual who is deceased.
  4. Depression.
 The person feels numb, even though anger and sadness may linger.
  5. Acceptance.
 This is the stage where anger, depression and sadness begin to subside and the individual begins to accept the loss.

Grief can last for months or years. Over time, the intensity of grief subsides but events such as anniversaries or holidays can often bring back deep feelings of sadness.

Resources

The following are useful resources for those experiencing grief or for those who are providing support for a grieving friend or relative.

  • Supporting Those Who Are Grieving from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provides a short, but realistic and effective suggestions for assisting a friend who has experienced a loss.
  • Supporting a Grieving Person of HelpGuide.org provides helpful and comprehensive suggestions for what to say to someone who has lost a loved one, and tips for providing support to a grieving individual.
  • Grief-How to Help the Bereaved by the Better Health Channel of Victoria, Australia provides a concise and helpful advice on how o listen with compassion, approaches to avoid with the bereaved, comments to avoid, how to provide practical help, and addressing the grieving process.
  • Helping your Bereaved Friend by the American Hospice Foundation provides suggestions on how you can prepare yourself for a friend’s loss, how to provide emotional help, and how to avoid saying the wrong things.
  • Aging with Awareness is an insightful essay that appears in Consciousness and Healing: An Anthology of Integral Approaches to Mind/Body Medicine (2004). This essay, which appears on The Awakening: A Center for Exploring Living and Dying web site is a thoughtful and insightful piece on one’s own aging as well as providing assistance to those in grief. This is an excellent read for someone who has not contemplated their own death and seeks great understanding of how we prepare for our own passing and that of others.

(photo: Markus Bollingo)