Grief - Let it out to be free

  • By Dr. T Deepa Porkodi

“To weep is to make less the depth of grief”- William Shakespeare.

Grieving can be an unbearable process, but is an extremely essential one too. The way a person grieves depends on several factors; the nature of the loss, the proximity of the lost person/object/relation, the upbringing, the value and belief system and religion.

People react to loss in several ways. Anger and irritation are the most commonly encountered first reactions. Sadness and helplessness along with a feeling of being lost come in much later.

Grief is not a voluntary emotion. It is thrust upon us and there is no getting away or getting over it quite easily. It is only gradually that we learn to overcome grief and move on with life.

However, for some people, things are not so easy. Bereavement can be so hard a fact to accept, that they continue to grieve for extended periods of time. The feeling of utter despair and helplessness takes over and there seems to be no sense or purpose to their lives. This is termed as complicated grief.

Complicated grief is like a continuous chronic state of mourning. The symptoms include:

  1. Intense longing for the deceased
  2. Difficulty in accepting death
  3. Numbness
  4. Preoccupation with sorrow
  5. Withdrawal from society and trouble doing the routine activities
  6. Swinging between crying, irritability and depression

It is normal to grieve at the loss of a loved one. At times, the grief may be for a long period. But one eventually gets over it. If you find that someone is not able to overcome their grief in spite of a significant lapse of time, it is important to get them professional counseling and care.
The feeling of anger at being ‘left behind’ or the inability to cope without the deceased person can be so severe that suicide may seem an attractive option.
Loss of a job, end of a relationship are also reasons for long-standing grief leading to suicide attempts.

Complicated grief is aggravated by:

  1. Sudden or violent death
  2. Lack of support and understanding from loved ones
  3. Being unprepared for the eventuality
  4. Lack of resilience in facing life’s problems

Complicated grief affects one physically as well as emotionally. It may lead to serious health hazards like:

  1. Suicidal thoughts.
  2. Physical illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, or cancer.
  3. Substance abuse like alcoholism, drugs and nicotine abuse.
  4. Post traumatic stress disorder.

Complicated grief is treated with the help of a technique of psychological counseling called complicated grief therapy. It is the same therapy that counselors use to treat patients of post traumatic stress disorder.

Joining support groups is also a great way to relieve yourself of the trauma of grief. Family members and friends also play a key role in helping one overcome grief.

The only people who think that there is a time limit for grief, are the ones who have never grieved themselves. Take your time to grieve. But remember, life goes on and so must you.


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