Thursday, March 13, 2014

A new of "grieving"

~ shared from Susan Leemont - Boulder, CO (BP)

No doubt since the death of our child, someone has been kind enough to share with us that we must all go through the “normal stages of grief” and then kindly list them for us.…  These “stages” were defined as a result of many studies, but the most popular seemed to be based on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's which resulted in her book: On Death and Dying (Scribner), which was published in 1969.

Although much of that is probably still true, more recent research seems to suggest – as we very well know from experience, that for most people, grieving is rarely a straight passage through discrete phases ending in healing.

To those of us who have gone thru this, we know that it is a constantly changing pattern, that seems to jump out at us when we least expect it, catch us off guard and then retreat again so we can catch our breath – some say similar to one of those scary houses we may walk thru in Disney or at a carnival… 

I came across this article and I want to share it with you because I think it helps to validate how grief really feels – not nice and neat in a fixed set of “stages” like those we heard about when we got pregnant – but the reality of what we feel and experience. 

Dr. Holly Prigerson states that grief it tends to occur in fits and starts, sometimes quickly, sometimes over a number of years. The way it unfolds varies dramatically, too, depending on whom you've lost and the nature of your relationship. Perhaps more surprising, research suggests that whomever a person is grieving for—a well-loved parent, spouse, friend or child—human beings are surprisingly resilient.

Holly Prigerson, Ph.D., is the director of the Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and as a result of a study she has done with hundreds of mourners, she discovered that while nearly all people go through a very rough period where they cry, long for the loved one, have difficulty eating and can't concentrate, 85 percent start feeling somewhat better in about six months. Even more hopeful, there are steps everyone can take to help the recovery process along, regardless of whom you're missing.

A new view of grieving - Like life itself, grief isn't something that unfolds neatly, starting on cue with denial and continuing until the mourner reaches the final stage, accepting that the person is gone. In Dr. Prigerson’s  two-year study of mourners, Prigerson found that rather than denial or anger, most mourners feel an acute sense of yearning and sadness throughout that fades and eases as time passes.

"There's no orderly progression of Kübler-Ross's hypothetical phases," Prigerson confirms. "It's more accurate to say that the emotions associated with grief exist simultaneously, then slowly decline as feelings of acceptance rise," she explains.

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