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Grief and Recovery

What is grief? Grief is defined as the normal reaction one experiences after any kinds of loss. Loss can be caused by death, divorce, retirement, etc. People grieve for significant relationships that have come to an end. Because of the intense emotional pain brought about by such losses, most people don’t know how to respond to them. Recovering from grief has become a much misunderstood process. The book The Grief Recovery Handbook by James, J. W. , & Friedman, R. (1998) has outlined several myths on grief recovery.

Time Heals All Wounds – There are people who have been grieving for a loved one’s death for 10, 20, or 30 years, but still they didn’t feel any better. Time could not heal their sufferings. It’s true that recovery does need some time, but there is no definite time frame. We should not conform ourselves to how much time other people needed to recover from a specific loss. How a person recovers, and how much time he needs is totally unique to him. It is his actions during his grieving moments that ultimately would lead him to a successful recovery.

Grieve Alone – The presence of friends and family will help you go through the pain you are feeling. You don’t have to always solicit advice from them, but knowing that they are there to listen to what you are actually feeling is a major step towards healing. Seeing other people grieve with you brings out a comforting feeling that we are not alone in our sufferings. Be Strong – This is one of the cliches we always here during tremendous grief. However, it doesn’t mean much.

It is difficult to be strong after experiencing so much loss, and we would be fooling ourselves if we believe we can. The best way to handle this is to acknowledge that we are caught at our weakest moments. Once we have acknowledged our weakness, looking back at our loss wouldn’t be as painful as it was. Replace the Loss – We can never exactly replace what we have lost. There’s no use deceiving ourselves that would ever find a replacement. We can only hope that we recover from the tremendous pain by turning back on fond memories prior to the loss, instead of focusing on the pain.

This will allow us to regain control of our lives and be capable enough of building new relationships. Elements of Grief. Every one of us is unique. We cannot be forced to grieve in the same way. We have different patterns and ways on how we handle our losses. The elements of grief could not be generalized in the same way. However, the most essential are physical, emotional, cognition and behavior. Physically, the person feels numbness and weakness. He can get frequent headaches, heartaches, muscle aches.

He gets the chills, feels dizzy and experiences rapid heartbeats. He would go through a lot of pain physically. He just needs to realize that these are common reactions to grief, which will eventually minimize in the course of the healing process. Emotionally, a grieving person gets frustrated, angry, saddened and even guilty over his loss. He may remain shocked and afraid for quite awhile. He would feel the abandonment, helplessness and yearning all at the same time. He should be encouraged to talk these feelings out to someone he can openly express his grief.

Cognition refers to how the brain reacts to the loss. Some people hallucinate or are always absent-minded. Those going through tremendous pain would have diminished capacity in making decisions and problem-solving. He should be aware of these, so to steer clear from making major decisions. Behaviors also define grief. Common behaviors are loss of appetite, getting drunk, crying, and avoiding anything that reminds of the loss. Those in grief might even entertain suicidal thoughts.

One is easily overwhelmed by so much pain caused by the loss. What is needed is someone to remind them that they’re not alone in their grief. Healing takes time. We should be patient with ourselves and give ourselves enough time to cope up. When in grief, realize that there are support groups available which can help alleviate the pain. To be completely healed does not mean forgetting the pain. It means that we were able to let go, and accept that though we would never be the same again, we continue living.

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