Loss, Grief, and Coping: Rest in Paradise

October 12, 2014

By: Anna Agoncillo


They say that first cut is the deepest, but the second one feels as deep. My grandfather died last year, and now my grandmother who was battling Lung Cancer is gone.


Theoretical Basis of Bereavement

You might be familiar with the Kübler-Ross's 5 stages of grief. According to this model, we go through different stages during our bereavement namely: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (Santrock, 2007). Although there are specific stages, the sequence is not fixed (Axelrod, 2006). Nonetheless, the end result is peaceful acceptance.

On the other hand, George Bonanno argues that there are no stages to go through because of our natural reaction to grief, called resilience (Bonanno, 2004).

Hold on! She's on her way to Paradise.

They say that first cut is the deepest, but the second one feels as deep. My grandfather died last year, and now my grandmother who was battling Lung Cancer is gone.

At first, I was in denial. When my mom told me about my grandmother’s passing, I didn’t even cry. I just told her to be strong and that I’m glad that she’s in a better place now. But, I felt the heaviness in my chest.

I thought I was emotionally strong because I was mentally prepared for the worst. You see, the doctors had given her 4 days to live.

As I was telling my friends about the big news, my tears rushed down. It’s reality hitting me in the head. She’s gone. I can no longer taste the food she cooks, nor can I hear her say she loves me.

No amount of mental preparation can control what I felt at that moment.

When reality hits you, all those memories that you have shared with that person will suddenly flashback like cinematic frames in your head. Over and over again until you finally give in to your emotions and cry.

Let it go. Let it all out. It’s healthier that way. Resisting and denying the pain will only prolong the process of healing or may result to long-term depression, substance abuse and health problems (Smith & Segal, 2014).

You have to understand that even if you’ve accepted the fact that it happened, there will be moments of relapse and pain. When this happens, take a deep breathe, be strong for your family and yourself.

The goal is not to forget about your loved ones that have passed. Rather, the goal is to find the strength to remember the loss with less pain and more hope attached. Your loved ones that have passed are in a better place now. We will be with them again someday.
Coping and Reconciling with the Loss (Smith & Segal, 2014; Patterson, 2014)

Coping through it is an extremely personal and subjective journey. If you find yourself lost, here are some tips that can help you make it through:

1. Have a proper farewell

Having a funeral and asking faith for strength can help in the grieving process. Allow yourself to grieve as long as you need. Being away from the country isn't a problem anymore since most memorial chapels offer online live-streams to the funerals (kudos to modern technology :D).

2. Accept the reality and face your emotions.

You must acknowledge and express your feelings outwardly (whether it be anger or sadness). When grief is left unresolved, it may lead to long-term depression, substance abuse and health problems. Personally, I use writing as my catharsis.

3. Get the support and help you need. You don't have to go through these tough times alone.
A. Share your experience to friends and family,
B. Join support groups or
C. Seek professional help from experienced counselors, therapists or psychologists.

Note: If you have a friend who is going through the same thing as I am, a word of advice: Don’t ask if we’re okay! I know you meant well and we thank you for your concern, but we’ll only feel worse. Instead, hug us or give us flowers, and tell us that you’ll be there when we need you. Then, give us space.

4. Invest your energy to productive and hopeful matters.

Soon enough, you’ll be able to find the strength to remember the loss without pain attached. When this happens, re-direct your energy and focus to productive matters such as learning a new sport or giving up your sedentary lifestyle. You may also want to read a book or even make one. Focus on other things that are important and do your best.


Parting thoughts
The experience of grief is a serious and gradual process. We will all experience loss at some point in our lives. And, coping through it is an extremely personal and subjective journey. Only you can understand your grieving experience best. Hang in there, find comfort in others, and keep your loved one’s happy memories alive in your heart.


Share your thoughts
How do you cope with grief? Share your experiences.


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References

Axelrod, J. (2006). The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/000617.

Bonanno, G. (2004). "Loss, trauma, and human resilience: have we underestimated the human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events?". The American Psychologist 59 (1), 20–8.

Patterson, E. (2014). Depression After Loss. Retrieved on October 9, 2014 from
http://depression.newlifeoutlook.com/depression-after-loss/

Santrock, J.W. (2007). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Smith, M. & Segal, J. (2014). Coping with Grief and Loss. Retrieved on October 9, 2014 from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief-loss/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm

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5 comments

  1. You have an extremely beautiful blog site with really well-written articles. And the references part at the bottom is both cute! and well-appreciated. I mean in an age when people can write a piece of their mind anywhere in web space, it's like a breath of fresh air when a blogger lends credence to what he/she says. I'm also dealing with grief right now and I this article just made me see grief in a structured, sort of organic way and not a wisp of smoke which I cannot grasp and deal with. Will be looking forward to more of your posts! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Gelo! Thank you so much for your comment. I feel flattered with the nice words you've said. Intellectual property is something that is given less importance by some people. But personally, I believe that we must give credit when credit is due.

    I hope that I can continue to educate and entertain you with my posts. Furthermore, treasure and dwell on the great memories you've spent with your loved one. It will get better in time. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was wondering though if you have some sort of dedicated email account where people can write to you in private and just vent out, pretty much like a consult if you will. That would be awesome for people like me who never had an official consult with a clinical psychologist/psychiatrist.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Gelo. Thank you for your suggestion, I'll take it into consideration. For now, you may leave your message here: http://misspsychobabble.blogspot.sg/p/contact.html or email it to subscribetomp@gmail.com.

    ReplyDelete

What is on your mind? I will get back to you as soon as possible! Thank you. :)

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