Grieving is the cure for Grief- Do it right

Dr.Shivani Salil

Psychology-of-anger-picture Grief is a natural response to loss. Grief is lonely and a supremely personal thing. The entire process is a mish mash of various emotions. It starts with denial, anger, depression and finally acceptance.

Grief is numbing and that is a blessing in disguise. Denial, like the floodgates of a dam, allows only as much grief that the person can handle. It helps to get us through the day till we are ready to accept the loss. It’s the scab on the wound that allows skin’s healing underneath.

As denial fades it makes way for anger. Some anger is healthy, vent it out. The only trouble is defining ‘some’ because anger is a destructive emotion if it crosses the line. Anger leads us into questioning God, “Why Me?”. Sometimes we even question God’s existence. Anger is a natural emotion that everyone responds to. It gives us a sense of power (misplaced as it may be) and fills the void making it bearable.

And then comes the time when we start thinking in the present tense and eventually are face to face with the void. The emptiness translates into depression. It feels like grief is percolating every pore of the body. Depression is like a rite of passage that one must go through and come out of. Allow yourself that luxury.

And then comes the time when we start thinking in the present tense and eventually are face to face with the void. The emptiness translates into depression. It feels like grief is percolating every pore of the body. Depression is like a rite of passage that one must go through and come out of. Allow yourself that luxury.

This road finally leads to acceptance. But acceptance in the real sense of the word, not the fake mask that we often don to face the world. It is understandable that we shall never ever get over the loss but time teaches us to live with it in equanimity. It involves a realignment of life’s little pieces which we have to accept if we expect normalcy in life. We look outwards as much as inwards to achieve that elusive balance.

How long a person takes to go through this roller coaster of emotions is very subjective. While some collect themselves admirably quickly and make an attempt to move on while there are some who need time to mope and exorcise themselves of all the grief that fills them. Some just bottle up while others may just drown in tears.



Psychology-of-anger-picture


I still haven’t figured out the etiquette of grief. How do you reach out to a person who is bereaving? The void and vacuum that they are unable to comprehend, how do you even attempt to fill it? We can at best be sympathetic but hardly empathetic. There are two types of people, the ones who mean well and the others who are…  well…. mean. 

It’s tough to deal with such grief vultures who hover around at the hint of loss but were nowhere to be seen when they were truly needed? And how do you tread the thin line where in all sincerity you mean well and run the risk of being perceived as mean?

Every family and every individual handles death and loss in a particular manner. No two families behave the same. Then how can our response be the same as we grieve with them?

There are a few dos and don’ts that I have laid down in my mind when I am confronted with the unpleasant task of condoling.

The first and foremost is a no brainer. Be yourself. How tough is that? Pretending that you are aggrieved when you are not doesn’t fool anyone…  least of all the person you are condoling. It is not necessary to cry with them. You just need to be there if they need to cry.

Ask yourself, can you do something to help? There are so many things big and small that need to be done. Make yourself useful. Even through their blur, people acknowledge that you mean well. And they remember it. If you cannot be useful just stay out of the way.

Do not comb for details. You do not need to go through a morbid step by step process of the loss. It does not serve any purpose. You ain’t any wiser and neither are they any less sad. A grand inquisition is unnecessary. Steer clear.

Respect the wishes of the dead and the living ones they have left behind. If they want rituals so be it…. Or the other way around. Even through the tears they may crave to laugh. Do not make them feel guilty for wanting to do that. Let’s not place ourselves on the high pedestal of morality and pass judgment.

Be around. But do not hover around. Help them steer through the stages of grief and at any point if you feel it’s going overboard advise them to seek help or step in on their behalf. Grief never ends, it changes. It’s a passage not a place to stay. See to it that you or your loved one make this journey safely. Any sign of staying back should ring an alarm in your mind. Therapy helps. It’s a small push that helps in a healthy vent out. It steers the boat when one may be drowning in the grief.

Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.
-Vicki Harrison
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