Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dealing With Grief

I decided to write a series on dealing with grief.  Hopefully it will help others dealing with grief or help someone understand what we’re going through.

My mother died June 16th and my life turn upside down.  Yes mother had been sick, but I honestly didn’t think she would die for a very long time.  Yes I was in denial a stage of grief I was to find out in my research.  Research you ask, why would I research grief, because when I don’t understand something or need help in something, I google it. 

WOW I was surprised by how much you can find out about grief.

My first lesson was actually something I learned many years ago, but since I hadn’t experience grief, I put it in my might need later part of my brain. I'd learned about the stages of death, which are similar to the stages of grief. It popped back up when I realized I was grieving.  No I didn’t realize I was grieving.  Nobody talks about grieving so you don’t know what to expect. 

To my surprise in my research I found I’d been grieving for the past three years.  Three years you’re wondering, didn’t you say your mother died in June?  Yes, but three years ago a dear person in my life also died, Willie Mae Johnson.  Mae as we called her died in September of 2008.  She was my mother’s best friend since they were 14, so she was my God Aunt.  I loved that lady and was devastated when she died.  I didn’t realize how devastated, until I started doing my research.

For the past three years I’ve been in a funk, just living.   I think I wrote about it here a few times.  I didn’t understand it, thought I was just tired.  NOPE, that’s grief.  I was missing Mae.  I kind of went into a LaShaunda shell; I didn’t want to go to church any more, I didn’t want to do things that reminded me of my pain. 

You see Mae sat behind me in church and I always looked back to see her every Sunday morning.  I didn’t realize this until a few weeks ago when I tried to figure out why I didn’t like going to church anymore.  My mother and I went to church together.  I picked her up from my sister's, every Sunday and we usually spent a few hours together after church.  Sunday was the day with my mother.  Now that she was gone, Sunday became my sad day.  I couldn’t face church because I knew my mother and Mae weren’t there and I didn’t want to be sad, so I just avoided it.

As I write these words I see I was going through the stages of grief, so before I move forward.  I will share with you the stages of grief, just in case you don’t know them.

7 Stages of Grief

You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring him back")

Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.

As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.

During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.

7 stages of grief...

You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.

Reading over those words, I see I’m still going through a few of the stages.  I’m telling you this grief is something else. 

Please feel free to share your experiences with grief, sometimes just writing about it helps get the feelings out. If you’re experiencing grief right now, here’s a big hug to you.  I know it’s hard, but we will get through it.

No comments: