Recently I discovered the work of Amy Florian, a consultant who helps people understand and endure the process of grieving for the loss of a loved one. Her website, www.corgenius.com has a great deal of valuable information to help families.
Amy refers to the work of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her groundbreaking book on dying, “On Death and Dying”. It was the first time that anyone had studied the emotional process of someone’s end of life. Kubler-Ross stated that there were five steps to the dying process: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Amy states that we often infer that these five stages are also the five stages of grief. But she points out that until someone observes these fives stages in a loved one they cannot really begin grieving.
And grief often does not progress in a linear form. It can become a roller coaster, not merely a series of steps. Sometimes people skips steps in the process or they may experience more of one than the other. They may not become angry at all or they may become extremely angry and stay that way for awhile. Psychologists are now talking more about behaviors that people exhibit than stages in the grieving process. These behaviors may include shock or numbness, sleeplessness, shortness of breath, depression, guilt, or withdrawal. All of these are normal.
The Center for Grief and Healing in Boston, http://www.griefandhealing.org points out that there are a number of misconceptions and myths about grief. They include:
The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
It’s important to be strong in the face of loss.
If you don’t cry it means you are not sorry about the loss.
Grief should last about a year.
Moving on with your life means you’re forgetting about the one you lost.
Friends can help by not bringing up the subject.
None of these statements are true. Each of us experiences grief in a personal, unique way. Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it last longer. Showing your true feelings will help you and those around you. There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving and you can hold on to your memory of a loved one and still move on with the rest of your life. You can help a grieving friend by giving them the freedom to express and discuss their grief with you.