All of us experienced undergo different kinds of emotions. One of these is grief; thus, a kind of feeling of deep sorrow or an anxiety to come grief to meet with disaster. Grief is an emotion basic to the human experience. Like dying patients, bereaved families and friends go through stages of denial and acceptance. Bereavement, however, more typically does follow a regular sequence, often beginning before a loved one dies. Such anticipatory grief can help to defuse later distress. The next stage of bereavement, after the death has occurred, is likely to be longer and more severe if the death was unexpected. During this phase, mourners typically cry, have difficulty sleeping, and lose their appetites. Some may feel alarmed, angry, or aggrieved at being deserted. Later, the grief may turn to depression, which sometimes occurs when conventional forms of social support have ceased and outsiders are no longer offering help and solace; loneliness may ensue. Finally, the survivor begins to feel less troubled, regains energy, and restores ties to others.
Moreover, most of us suffer and cope with the deaths of relatives and friends. Usually, the most difficult separation is from one’s spouse—a loss suffered by five times more women than men. Grief is especially severe when the death of a loved one comes before its expected time on the social clock. The accidental death of a child or the sudden illness that claims a 45-year-old spouse may trigger a year or more of mourning flooded with memories, eventually subsiding to a mild depression that sometimes continues for several years (Lehman & others, 1999). Contrary to a popular myth, those who express the strongest grief immediately do not resolve their grief more quickly (Wortman & Silver, 2001). The normal range of reactions to a loved one’s death is wider than most people suppose. Severe distress is common, but not inevitable.
Those who suffer a terminal illness live with the awareness of their impending death. In analyzing how people cope with the prospect of death, the stage theorists have once again arrived ahead of us. From her interviews with dying patients, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (2000) proposed that the terminally ill pass through a sequence of five stages: denial of the terminal condition; anger and resentment (Why me?”); bargaining with the God (or physicians) for more time; depression stemming from the impending loss of everything and everyone; and, finally, peaceful acceptance of one’s fate. Others propose similar stages—disbelief, protest, depression, recovery—for coping with a sudden physical impairment (Fitzgerald, 2002).
Critics question the generality of all such stages, stressing that each person’s experience is unique Real people, they say, don’t fit into these neat boxes. Moreover, they argue, the simplified stages ignore many important factors—for example, that people who are old usually view death with less expressed fear and resentment than younger people (Wass & others, 2000-2001). Critics also express concern about the eagerness with which the death-and-dying formula has been popularized in courses and books. The danger, they fear, is that rather than having their feelings respected, dying people may be analyzed or manipulated in terms of the stereotyped stages: “She’s just going through the anger stage.”
II. Definition to Grief
Before 1960, there was little research on grief, perhaps because many people want to avoid the subject of death. However, as psychologists have become more interested in the processes of aging and the psychological issues related to growing old, interest in this emotion has increased. Grief refers to intense emotional suffering, usually caused by loss. The loss may be temporary, as in separation, or permanent, as in death. We tend to think of the loss that brings about grief as loss of a person or perhaps of a beloved animal, but other kinds of losses may cause grief: loss of some physical attractiveness; loss of some object such as money or one’s homeland; and loss due to developmental processes, such as weaning and loss of the only-child status when a sibling arrives (Peretz, 2003).
Despite its unpleasantness as an emotion, grief serves some very important functions. Because grief is unpleasant, it is something we all want to avoid if possible. Yet grief reinforces group cohesiveness by encouraging individuals not to separate from the group—whether family, friends, or the community. Historically, such a function has had obvious survival value. Grief has adaptive functions for the individual as well. By grieving, an individual deals with a loss and, eventually, adjusts to it. Grief also provides the individual with a way to acknowledge the loss publicly and to pay homage to the person who was lost. Such a public display of emotion can elicit feelings of empathy and concern from the community and thus afford the grieving person much-needed support during difficult times. Further, grief shows others that the bereaved person is a caring person, adding to the communicative value of grief. Grief may motivate the person to recover the lost object, if in fact can be recovered, as in the case of separation. Finally, grief is important because it promotes personal growth. When social relationships are broken due to death or separation, the person may turn the loss to eventual advantage with increased maturity and even enhanced self-esteem.
But adjustment to major losses can also pose risks to health. For example, people who have encouraged major tragedies in their lives may have an increased risk of sudden death, a phenomenon documented by Engel (2002). Less dramatically, traumatic emotional events can also aggravate respiratory, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular disorder (Taylor, 1999).
Studies of people who have experienced losses have shown that grief usually, but not always, occurs in three stages. The first stage, labeled protest and yearning, involves a “protest over the fact of bereavement ad an intense yearning after or urge to recover the lost object” (Averill, 2001). This stage is followed by a stage labeled disorganization and despair, a slow process in which the loss is accepted, as the person abandons efforts to recover the lost object. The final stage, detachment and reorganization, is marked by a final emotional detachment from the lost object and the formation of new life goals and perspectives.
III. Response to Grief
Nevertheless, the death-education movement has enabled us to deal more openly and humanely wit death and grief. A growing number of individuals are aided by hospice organizations, whose staff and volunteers work in special facilities and in people’s homes to support and comfort the terminally ill and their families, to help make this a meaningful time “when goodbyes can be said, when broken relationships can be healed, when forgiveness can be given or received” (Magno, 1999).
We can be grateful for the waning of death-denying attitudes. Facing death with dignity and openness helps people complete the life cycle with a sense of life’s meaningfulness and unity—the sense that their existence has been good and that life and death are parts of an ongoing cycle. Although death may be unwelcome, life itself can be affirmed even at death. This is especially so for people who review their lives not with despair but with what Erik Erikson calls a sense of integrity—a feeling that one’s life has been meaningful and worthwhile.
IV. Recovery from Grief
There are many ways how we can overcome grief. Acceptance of losing someone or something will help an individual to recover from grief. Nothing positive will be happening if an individual should sulk and confined himself/herself with in the four walls of his/her room. Accepting it and expressing your lose through crying and soul searching. Most of all, seek for God’s intervention because only him can help us overcome the grief. It is hard to overcome grief if an individual does not accept the fact. God will give the grieved individual the wisdom he/she needs to overcome it. Accepting grief as part of one’s life in this world will make the individual mature and grow in the knowledge of God. Any storm will come in the future and an individual who passes and overcomes grief will not be shaken anymore because he/she knows he/she can handle it through God’s strength. God is just a call apart from you and glory will be rewarded at the end of the day.
V. Evaluation of Grief Experiences
An individual cannot be a good teacher or an adviser if he/she has not been to a school of trials and sufferings. The words of wisdom of an individual who experienced grief and shared it to someone who is in agony are very effective and soothing because all those words are come from the heart and already tried. An individual who overcame grief is already experienced and can speak with wisdom that can topple down any storm of life, one will encounter in the lives; thus, its word has power and impact to those who listen and need it. His /her word has power because it is full of wisdom from our Almighty God.
It is normal for each individual to experience grief; thus, it is part of our emotions and part of individual’s growing up. Going through with this circumstance makes an individual strong if he handles it properly. Psychologists stated that it is a matter of choice whether an individual continually yield to that feeling or move on with life.
Most people who have undergone this stage and overcome it can really contribute much in comforting those people who are presently experiencing this stage and with this; they can share how they are able to surpass the said situation.
1. Lehman & others, 1999. Long-term effects of losing a spouse or child in a motor vehicle crash. Journal personality and Social Psychology, 52
2. Wortman & Silver, 200. The myths of coping with loss. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 349-357. (p. 94).
3. Fitzgerald, 2002. Reactions to blindness: An exploratory study of adults with recent loss of sight. Archives of General Psychiatry, 22, 372-379. (45).
4. Wass & others, 2000-2001. Similarities and Dissimilarities in attitudes towards death in a population of older persons. Omega, 9, 337-354. (p.940).
5. Magno, 1999. The Hospice concept of care: Facing the 1990’s. Keynote address to the Association for Death Education and Counseling. (p. 94).
6. Peretz, 2003. Reaction to Loss. In B. Schoenberg, A.C. Carr D. Peretz, & A. H. Kutscher (Eds.), Loss and grief: Psychological management in medical practice. New York: Columbia University press.
7. Engel (2002). Sudden and rapid death during Psychological stress:Folklore or folk wisdom? Annals of Internal Medicine, 74, 771-782.
8. Taylor, 1999. Positive Illusions. New York: Basic Books. (pp. 240, 338, 365, 366).