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Coping with loss and its Complexities !

September 10, 2012  by: ushakiran  Points: 12   Category: Health  Earning $1.50   Views: 637

Grief is the inevitable reaction to a loss,it is a painful state that can lead to psychological and physical disorders,even to death in some cases..


Coping With Loss

Has anyone heard of positive Grief ? Even if it is painful, grief is positive and according to psychologists expressing your grief is an even more positive sign.But before you see the light at the end of the tunnel, you have to travel through the tunnel !It is neceessary to understand the process of grieving and its complexities so that if and when it is your turn to face the devastation, you are better equipped to handle the pain and can emerge from the experience stronger and wiser !

I came across a family friend who had lost his wife a few months ago and ,he had this to say about his loss and the grief he felt about it ! Initially for a few days after the tragedy he could hardly talk or make a sound ,because he was afraid that any sound he made would scare off the sound of her voice still echoing in his mind.Soon after he began to keep a journal where he began writing down all the past details and his feelings now after he had gone through the loss. He constantly felt as if someone was standing on his cheast and he needed to sigh all the time ! Such was the grief felt for his loved one !

However, according to him from his journal entries he had come to terms with his grief within a matter of 3 or 4 months since his later entries were more balanced - ' Life is a little rough but is getting better now and I planted that coconut sapling that Lakshmi(his wife) had wanted all those years ago, and, the roses on the windowsill are blooming !

We all know that Loss is a part of one's life and the death of a loved one is perhaps the most dreaded loss, but there are others as well - loss of good heath, loss of a relationship, even the loss of a treasured possession are all equally painful. No loss is welcome, they throw your life out of gear in their wake.But people do recover from their losses though for some the recovery is protracted and more difficult.With recovery comes the opportunity to learn and grow,to be wiser if sadder !

Grief is the inevitable reaction to a loss,it is a painful state that can lead to psychological and physical disorders,even to death,but it can also prepare a beraved individual for the changes that invariably follow ! According to clinical psychologists grief can be the doorway to recovery and rehabilitation.Grief itself is a medicine and like all medicines it can be bitter but it can also promote the healing process !


According to most physicians the loss of a child and a spouse is the most painful and stressful of all losses. Of course this may seem debatable as to which is the greater loss , the loss of a child or the spouse !Psychologists are also of the opinion that women cope better after losing their spouse whereas it is far more serious for men.According to statistics more than 30% of the beraved men died themselves whereas only 12% of the women succumbed after they lost their spouses.Surprisingly , the data was not different for healthy and educated men, it was more or less the same .

Intense grief adversely affects the body's stress harmones and nervous system in the same way exteme fright and natural disasters trigger sudden cardiac death in men.As to why widowers face an increased risk of death after beravement , one can only speculate about many possibilities since researchers are still unable to determine whether they died of broken heart or excessive grief or abnormal grief since there are both normal and abnormal ways to grieve !

Normal Grief

Most people experience loss in their own unique way and one simply cannot generalise.But there are some typical and normal responses which also leads to recovery and adjustment.
Normally when we lose a loved one we mourn for them with a sense of shock and numbness even when the loss was predictable and slow in coming like when the person had been suffering from some incurable disease.It is because you miss the physical presence of the person who has always been around.
Slowly, the shock changes to many other emotions like denial and preoccupation with many oscillating between denial and disbelief.These are all signs of normal mourning and beraved individuals often become preoccupied with thoughts and memories of the deceased and may even experience their physical presence at times.

This leads to feeling of guilt and anger and also a feeling of having failed the person somehow.These are all normal reactions to grief.The second stage of grief is normally characterized by depression and disorganisation which we see in many individuals who have lost their loved ones.Personally speaking , I have seen this happen with a close relative who took nearly a year to come out of her grief after having lost her spouse.This, inspite of the fact that they had more downs than ups in their marital relationship !

Feelings of despair and hopelessness dominate and many mourners also may think of committing suicide.Sleep disturbance and loss of appetite are also common and many people tend to lose weight.Some even fall sick and there may be some psycho somatic illness directly related to their grief .However, most people do come out of this phase and come to the final phase of acceptance and reorganisation of their lives.

It is no doubt a slow process and the person grieving takes a long time to come out of it and become normal.Sleep and energy levels get restored so also appetite and weight gain.
Eventually, the survivor accepts his/her loss without forgetting his lost loved one , but feels enriched by the memories and begins to rebuild his/her life .It is no doubt a slow process but not an impossible one.

Abnormal Grief

When a person remains morose and in a state of grief for more than a year after losing someone close , one can say that his reactions are abnormal.When they go through strong spells of severe emotional imbalances , also feel isolated and empty of feelings, or have disturbed sleep pattern and lose interest in work,hobbies and maintaining relationships with other people, one can say that it is a clinical condition of abnormal grief that needs to be treated.

According to psychologists people who bottle up their feelings and also those who are excessively demonstrative are both at risk for abnormal grief, as are people who were burdened by psychological problems before loss.Unexpected and violent death can also trigger abnormal grief even in emotionally sound individuals.This is traumatic grief that comes with many other feelings like guilt and anger.Sometimes , they fail to come out of this all consuming feeling of grief and can go into deep depression and even mental block.It sometimes takes years to get the person out of such a state ,with the help of psychiatric treatment , and even then the person may not recover fully.

Abnormal grief can take many form , even causing physical harm to oneself or others who they feel are in some way responsible for the loss of their loved ones.
It is essential to treat abnormal grief with medication and counselling.Most doctors prescribe anti depressants that have theraputic value when taken for a short period of time and also when grief is complicated with depression and excessive feeling of guilt.

Helping others and ourselves cope with the loss.

1, Staying close and being there with the person going through the traumatic experience helps a lot . When they express themselves , giving a patient hearing to them and also understanding their grief helps them cope with their loss better Being patient,sympathetic and nonjudgmental helps understand others grief better since grief is a powerful emotion that cannot be mitigated by simple advise to cheer up !It is not easy for a surviving spouse to cope with the loss, like they say Everyone can master a grief but who has it !

2, When the person is showing signs of recovering from his/her grief and is able to come to terms with his life, it helps to give the required strength and companionship since it is not easy for anyone to get back to being normal after having gone through a life shattering experience .

3, Most people do not want to come closer to the person suffering because they have the fear of being adversely affected by it.It becomes bery difficult for the greiving person to face such insensitive reactions and then to pick up the threads of one's life and continue lving with hope.

4, It is evn harden when you are the person suffering from loss.It is importaant to be realistic about what is happening and do your best to come to terms with your loss.

5, Learning to understand our feelings and also sharing our grief with friends and relatives is very important at this stage.It is more natural for women , harder for men, but it is very important for everyone to share their feelings with others. Intercation is like a good medicine that helps us cope better .

6, It is our responsibility to keep ourselves healthy and fit instead of becoming a burden on others and making them miserable as well. A healthy body will give our mind the will and resilience it needs to accomplish the work of grieving that will eventually lead to recovery !


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