Learn about the grief process—a common, though nonlinear, progression that takes time.
- Each one of us must face separations, loss, and change. And grief is the natural reaction to those losses. And it is both a universal and very, very personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are really quite influenced by the nature of the losses that you've experienced. Losses that occur tragically, traumatically or unexpectedly or are out of the natural order with the death of a child or a young spouse, or where a relationship has been strained or conflictual. Or even that occur by human hand and appear absolutely senseless. Those are often so much more difficult to comprehend and they may take longer to process through. We may not be able to make sense of the loss itself nor even how it occurred. Though over time, we may be able to make sense of the impact that the loss had on us. As you may recall, grief includes combined feelings of sadness, helplessness, anger or disappointment. And grief may not surface as only one single 90-second wave, it may come as waves of waves. Maybe you're tearful one moment, okay for a while, and then unexpectedly and spontaneously you're right back and moved to tears again. As before, ride the waves. Over time, these waves will decrease in frequency and they will decrease in intensity and they will always subside, always. Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a noted expert in death and dying described five stages she believed people transitioned through as they faced their own death. They include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And for years, many individuals applied and imposed these same stages to grieving. Now while there may be broad phases that one appears to move through, we now know that these phases don't necessarily follow one to the other, and that grief certainly does not unfold in a linear manner. In fact, loss is really quite an interesting phenomenon. As it's common when someone loses something unexpectedly or someone that they love dearly, the loss itself quickly and easily can bring up memories of prior losses. Other than your sense of smell, which is known to really quite rapidly activate memories, I happen to believe through all my professional experiences that loss and separation elicit memories of prior losses quite quickly too. And anything at anytime can trigger a memory, a time of year, a scent, a particular location, perhaps an image, a piece of music, literally anything can illicit the experience of loss. And of course then, the grief. Drawing from the work of Sir John Bowlby, consider these three broad phases that are related to grieving. It's another way to look at it. The first is marked by defiance and anger. The second by pain, despair and sometimes disorganization. And the third is marked by a slow reorganization and reinvestment in life. Remember, these are not linear stages, the grief just ebbs and flows and there may be swings between feeling pain and then wanting to move on. The goal of course, over time, is to have an interest in living and to fully reinvest in life. What Christina Rasmussen, author of the Book "Second Firsts" describes as part of her life reentering model, "Such growth following something difficult or traumatic "is often referred to as post-traumatic growth. "It's a recognition that you've survived the pain "and found life worth living. "And that you've adapted to your new circumstance "and reinvested in life." Just know it's likely to be messy, with all sorts of starts and stops, with unexpected tears or shifts in mood, and waves and waves of feelings to ride, lots of them.
- Understanding difficult feelings
- Defining grief
- Dealing with loss and change
- Supporting grieving colleagues
- Returning to work