People reaction to a death is influenced by such factors such as tribal, religious and cultural traditions, Personal beliefs about life after death, the type of relationship they had and many other factors. As a result of this variety and emotional complexity, it is imperative that people should trust their own feelings about how they choose to grieve.
Also, people can experience bereavement with regards to other losses such as miscarriages, loss of loved one due to progressive deterioration of physical or mental capacity through illness, losing one’s own health and many other losses.
Complicated grief is recognized as a response to loss of that may feature intense, prolonged, delayed or denied mourning, depressive disorders and poor physical health condition and is often linked with problems in functioning.
When a loss is suffered, a process of adaptation and adjustment begins. This process is known as grief. Different researchers have identified some phases, tasks and stages of grief. They give a general indication of some of the landmarks in the grieving process, but it is important to remember that bereaved people are individuals and much like with everything else in life. Not everyone experiences all stages of grief or in the same order. Some mourners fluctuate between the phases, sometimes returning to an earlier stage.
The identical stages of grief include shock, numbness and disbelief; because the reality has not penetrated, bereaved people can disappear to be relatively accepting of their loss and be holding up well. The denial and isolation are usually a temporary defense.
Separation and pain follows, in which grief engulfs the bereaved person in waves of distress, intense yearning, pining and feelings of emptiness; it can feel as if one is being torn apart or as if the deceased have being torn away. At this stage of mourning, searching behavior can occur in the form of dreams or hallucinations.
The next stage is despair, depression, and there are usually difficulties with concentration. This stage is often difficult to cope with, as it produces strong emotions such as anger, guilt, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, extreme, sadness and other physical manifestations.
Some people may go on to the “bargaining” stage where they make a real attempt to postpone the reality and inevitable acceptance of the death. This might then lead on to a brief intense stage of an overwhelming great sense of loss, followed by the final stages of acceptance.
Acceptance, resolution and reorganization are the stage where new patterns of life are established. The strong emotions fade and a time of peace and reflection ensues. The bereaved person is eventually able to recall memories of the deceased without being overwhelmed by sadness or other emotion, and they are once again ready to invest in the world.
The tasks of mourning are to accept the reality of loss and to work through the pain of grief; also to adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing and to emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with life.
The various phases of grief and what one can go through sound simple in black and white. However, in reality, actually living through it can be nightmarish. Many people fail to move through the different stages and get stuck in the denial, anger or depressive stages. Non-acceptance of the reality of the loss means that grief has not been resolved.
Unresolved grief is mostly a consequence of denial of the loss. Nobody likes to experience pain and denial actually acts like a painkiller; In other words, the pain is still there, you just don’t feel it for a period. Denial of a loss caused by grief is an unconscious psychological response against the pain caused by grief.
However, unresolved grief prevents the healing process and can have serious consequences. Unresolved grief tends to turn into delayed grief, the effects of which can surface years later as inappropriate reactions or behavior. Most of the time, we ourselves do not realize the reasons for such bizarre reactions and we are not able to relate them to the loss we experienced some time ago.
Unresolved grief tends to exhibit symptoms such as appetite, augmentative behavior and attitudes, lack of caring for self and for others, uncontrollable crying, and lack of ability to focus, increase in alcohol use or abuse of other substances, hopelessness and a general lack of desire to carry on.
Unresolved, prolonged or chronic grief is a grief that lasts longer than usual for person social circle or cultural background. It can also be used to describe grief that does not go away or that interferes with the person’s ability to take care of daily responsibilities.
Complicated grief is a period of intense grief and anxiety that last six months or more. It may develop in people who feel guilty about the loss, such as people who think they have prevented the death in some way (this may or may not be rational). Also, in those who have lost someone unexpectedly as a result of a violent act such as fatal road accident, terror attack, or murder.
The way people express unresolved grief varies. They may act as though nothing has changed. They may refuse to talk about the loss or they may become preoccupied with the memory of the deceased and may not be able to talk about anything else. They may become overly concerned about their health in general or obsessed with an existing condition in particular. They may become progressively depressed and isolate themselves from other people or they may become overly involved in work or a hobby.
The absence of mourning and the symptoms associated with it are warning signs of unresolved grief. Mourning rituals are meant for emotional healing. They are effective ways of completing the emotional ties with a loved one. If these are done well, it helps the grieving to focus on the future after the mourning is completed. Mourning rituals allow for concentration of emotional energy on the lost one. Everyone’s mourning rituals will be different and it is very important you find what is right for you.
Some people carry an impression that they must be”strong” and always in control and therefore suppress their feelings and do not allow themselves to grieve properly the loss of a loved one. Grief is actually a sign of strength not weakness. If your emotions are not released through words, tears and apprehensions, they are bound to find other less favourable ways for release. This can prove to be very detrimental to your emotional well being and physical health.