Bereavement is More Than You Think!

Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign tongue. Do not now seek those answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps, then, you will gradually, without even noticing, live your way into the answers. Rilke

 

Many times we think of bereavement and loss as the death of the physical body. However, I suggest that we experience bereavement and loss toward other areas of our lives in much the same way as the physical body, such as – end of relationships, sudden unplanned change in career/job, natural disaster, etc.

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Kübler-Ross originally applied the stages below to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom). This also includes the death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction, or infertility. Kübler-Ross also claimed these steps do not necessarily come in the order noted above, nor are all steps experienced by all patients, though she stated a person will always experience at least two.

Five Stages of Grief

  1. Denial:
    • Example – “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening.”
  2. Anger:
    • Example – “Why me? It’s not fair!””NO! NO! How can you accept this!”
  3. Bargaining:
    • Example – “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything, can’t you stretch it out? A few more years.”
  4. Depression:
    • Example – “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”
  5. Acceptance:
    • Example – “It’s going to be OK.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

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A lesser known definition of the stages of grief is described by Dr. Roberta Temes in the book, “Living With an Empty Chair – a guide through grief.” Temes describes three particular types of behavior exhibited by those suffering from grief and loss. They are:

  • Numbness (mechanical functioning and social insulation)
  • Disorganization (intensely painful feelings of loss)
  • Reorganization (re-entry into a more ‘normal’ social life.)

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When Will I Be Through Grieving?

Grieving used to be much more ritualistic than it is today. In generations past there were set periods of time when certain customs must be observed:

  • Widows wore all black clothing for one year and drab colors forever after.
  • Mourners could not attend social gatherings for months.
  • Laughter and gaiety were discouraged for weeks or months.

We might even be confused about when we should be done grieving.  Actually, we’ll probably never be done.

We’ll never forget the person we grieve for. Our feelings may be tempered more with good memories than sadness as time passes, but that isn’t to say that waves of raw emotion won’t overcome our way after we think we should be done.

I think the trick here is to understand that the feelings will occur, try to keep them in perspective, try to understand why you feel a certain way, and if there are any unresolved issues that cause particular emotional pain, forgive yourself and others and if necessary talk with someone about it.

There is no completion date to grieving…let your emotions flow through the stages of grief.

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Much of your personal beliefs play a major part if how you will process and grieve each experience. This is not a journey one must take alone, help is available. Feel free to contact me to learn more about resources in your area, or how we can work together in processing and beginning healing the heart.

Reading list:
On Death 

On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker

Intimate Death, Marie de Hennezel

On Our Way, Robert Kastenbaum

When Children Die

Institute of Medicine Stillbirth: Prediction, prevention, and management

Wolf in the Attic, Sophia Richman

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl

Numinous (religious, spiritual)

Dark Night of the soul

St. John of the Cross, tr. by Mirabai Starr

A Grace Disguised, Gerald Sittser

The Awakened Heart, Gerald May

A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis

The Way of the Heart, Henri Nouwen

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche

The Places that Scare You, Pema Chodron

Existential Suffering

The Loss of Sadness, Allan V. Horwitz & Jerome Wakefield

A Cry Unheard: The Medical Consequences of Loneliness, James J. Lynch

Healing the Soul in the Age of the Brain, Elio Frattaroli

The Problem with Pain, C.S. Lewis

Night, Elie Wiesel

The Gift of Therapy

The Psychology of Shame, Gershen Kaufman

The Wisdom of the Wilderness, Gerald May

Neuroscience and Trauma, Grief

The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, Lou Cozolino

Existential Psychotherapy, Irvin Yalom

Muses, Madmen, and Prophets, Daniel Smith

Creating Sanctuary, Sandra Bloom

Your Drug may be Your Problem, Peter R. Breggin & David Cohen

 

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Transformational coaching develops a working relationship in “creating a  future”, rather than “getting over” the past. Trained as a psychotherapist I’ve come to find a  more fulfilling approach to helping others through the practice of  “Transformational  Life Coaching”. Online, telephone or in person.

Transformational Life Coaching sessions ~Emotional Distress ~Relational Discord ~Life  Exploration & Satisfaction ~Communication Effectiveness ~Childhood  Sexual Abuse  ~Sobriety Coaching (addictions, behavioral, substance,  sexual).

Cheryl Wheeler, MA *only providing Life Coaching Services. Please note coaching sessions are not to be considered psychotherapy in nature and are not appropriate for Serious Mental Health Illness’.