The Dangers of Carrying Grief!

Posted on Apr 3, 2014 in Chronic Disease, Health & Wellness

Grief  noun \ˈgrēf\

  1. deep sadness caused especially by someone’s death
  2. a cause of deep sadness
  3. trouble or annoyance

We generally associate grief with death but, it can be caused by many things, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of physical movement, etc.  Grief isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you loved something that now is gone. 

Stages of Grief: [i]

 1. Denial and Isolation

The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.

2. Anger
As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us angrier.
The doctor who diagnosed the illness and was unable to cure the disease might become a convenient target. Health professionals deal with death and dying every day. That does not make them immune to the suffering of their patients or to those who grieve for them.
Do not hesitate to ask your doctor to give you extra time or to explain just once more the details of your loved one’s illness. Arrange a special appointment or ask that he telephone you at the end of his day. Ask for clear answers to your questions regarding medical diagnosis and treatment. Understand the options available to you. Take your time.

3. Bargaining
The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control–

  • If only we had sought medical attention sooner…
  • If only we got a second opinion from another doctor…
  • If only we had tried to be a better person toward them…

Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.

4. Depression
Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words. The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.

5. Acceptance
Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.
Loved ones that are terminally ill or aging appear to go through a final period of withdrawal. This is by no means a suggestion that they are aware of their own impending death or such, only that physical decline may be sufficient to produce a similar response. Their behavior implies that it is natural to reach a stage at which social interaction is limited. The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to us.
Coping with loss is an ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.

When does Grief become an issue? 
Everyone heals in their own way and own time.  With that said how can I or anyone put a line in the sand to say you’ve grieved long enough?  The decision that you are ready to start to move past the grief is your personal decision. 
Every Emotional Issue has a Physical Link
All emotions impact our bodies, grief in general weakens our lungs.  Over time your breathing can become shallow, then it can move into a cough that will not go away, develop asthma and so forth.  Our lungs are physically linked to your shoulders.  You can develop shoulder pain, weakness in your shoulders and yes frozen shoulder.  The lung weakness can then move to lower brain function because your body isn’t moving oxygen as well.  If the grief isn’t dealt with it can continue to snowball.

How Do You Begin to Shift Out of the Grief?

  • Get some support ~ whatever feels right for you from a good friend that you can lean on to professional help. There is no shame in asking for help. I have a lot of ideas for support. Please feel free to reach out and I will help guide you as to which option may be right for you.
  • Begin to talk about the good times more than the bad times
  • Begin a new routine ~ Start walking or a yoga class, move your body
  • Meditate on a regular basis
  • Get outside
  • Start consciously breathing deeply
  • Do something you enjoy – DAILY
  • Use your creative powers often.
  • Remember that everything happens in its right time.
  • If it’s within your beliefs ~ Trust in a higher power ~ Trust that us humans always don’t see the bigger picture.