Picking up the pieces

Almost everyone on planet Earth has been touched by grief-loss in some shape or fashion.  Grief is something we would rather not have to face but it is simply one of life’s realities.  More often than not, we are usually at a loss for words to comfort someone who has lost a friend or family member.  However; understanding the grieving process, the signs of grief and coping tips, will help you tremendously in handling grief-loss.

A person who is experiencing grief-loss usually goes through five phases; namely denial, anger, making deals, depression and then acceptance.  In the denial stage, persons will exhibit disbelief, shock and a refusal to accept the grief.  The person may then begin to express feelings of anger and resentment about the perceived unfairness of the situation. Anger will give way to making deals and then comes depression.  If prolonged depression persists then medical intervention should be sought.  The last phase is acceptance where the grieving person is willing to pick up the pieces and slowly return to normal life.

Some signs of grief-loss include:

Losing interest in things or activities that were initially important or brought happiness. Generally, there is a loss of purpose for living.
Sudden and drastic change in physical appearance.  It can range from being unkempt to the provocative over the top attire.
• Spending more time to indulge in negative behavior or activities such as substance abuse.
Changing friends or avoiding old friends.
• Ignoring the grief and pretending that it never happened.
Drastic change in sleeping and eating habits. This could include oversleeping and overeating or the opposite.

Despite the ill-effects of grief, the good news is that you can cope.  We have provided a few coping tips below to navigate you through grief-loss.

• Daily give yourself something you like.  Start living again.
Join a support group with other persons who have or are experiencing grief.  This will allow you to speak openly about your grief while empathizing with others.
• Seek to find ways that you can give back to society.  Sometimes doing acts of kindness and charity have a remarkable way of helping to heal the pain caused by grief-loss.
Become involved with organizations that are focused on helping people to handle grief. You may find that your experience may be a source of healing for others.  You may even discover a gift in the process.
Visit a grief counselor for one-on-one sessions if you are not ready for group therapy.

Dealing with grief-loss is never easy – both for the person who is grieving and the others around who are trying to offer support.  The key to better grief management is the ability to understand the different stages of grief and utilize the appropriate coping mechanism.

Grief-loss is a constant in life; therefore, having information will help to make the process a little easier.  The good news is that grieving does not have to last forever if it is managed well.

About the author: John T. Catrett, III is Chaplain at AllCare Hospice 4608 S. Garnett Rd. Suite 501 Tulsa, OK. 74146.