Grief is often difficult to define as it varies across individuals, but having a better understanding of it can assist with overcoming it. There are various terms associated with grief as well as general principles experienced universally:
- Grief is a natural reaction to loss.
- Mourning is a process of outward expression of grief and part of the 'grief work' that one needs to go through before resuming normal life.
- Bereavement is a general term used to describe any event of loss.
For the purpose of this article, bereavement refers to a loss due to death and grief to the emotional distress that one experiences due to the death of a known person.
There are numerous grief theories, but the basic moot point is that grief is individualistic. The fact is that there is neither a way to prepare oneself for grief nor is there a correct way of coping with death. It depends largely upon a person's ability in managing emotions, upbringing, and relationship with the deceased. Despite this, there is still a healthy debate going on about what comprises the grieving process and the emotions that one experiences during it.
Grief sets forth a series of mood swings that may be overlapping, transient, or prolonged. The initial shock or disbelief is followed by extreme emotional distress, and is eventually followed by a phase of resolution.
Family and friend support is usually always welcome at difficult times. Discussing the deceased can be upsetting, but giving expression to feelings can make things better. A grief counselor can help in many ways, as familial support is becoming increasingly difficult to receive due to the fast-paced life that we have all adopted.
There are many tools available to a grief counselor. The repertoire includes meditation, relaxation, art making, writing letters, commemoration, guided imagery, and healing rituals to move towards the ultimate goal of emotional wellness. A grief counselor assists an individual in accepting the loss by sharing the emotions associated with the deceased person. Regret, anger, guilt, helplessness and grappling with the existence of the bond with the deceased person are a normal part of mourning. The discussions are directed towards arriving at a balance between these emotional responses during the grieving process.
During a lifetime, a person goes to great lengths to nurture the bonds that one develops for one's own emotional wellness. Bereavement breaks such bonds permanently, and grief is an effort to maintain that emotional bond. The sadness and sorrow that one feels is not only for the deceased, but also for the loss of opportunity to share one's dreams and plans with the dead person.
A grief counselor uses verbal and non-verbal therapeutic tools to acquire skills for carrying on with life and build new bonds. S/he provides help to focus on life without the loved one and make it easier to cope with the stress caused by bereavement.References: