Coping With Grief - Understanding the
By Ben Anton
Grief is a common, expected, and necessary reaction to
loss of any kind. Each person will experience grief in a
different way and, depending on how well they cope with
those emotions, they may have positive or negative
long-term effects from their bereavement.
What is Grief?
The term grief comes from the Old French word greve
which means a heavy burden. Normal characteristics of
grief include depression, apathy, lethargy, and sorrow.
What is so difficult about grief after the loss of a
loved one is that it can renew and manifest again when
special occasions or key dates come around each year.
Though physical absence is the most obvious reason to
grieve, many have a more difficult time getting over the
constant reminder that they will never share a special
moment or memory with the loved one again.
Responding To Grief
The response to the loss of a loved one varies depending
on how the person passed way, the relationship between
the griever and the deceased, and individual
personalities. When a person dies unexpectedly, the
grieving process may last longer than the grief
associated with an anticipated death. Feelings of guilt
and regret are often heightened in situations where a
person dies who one has not spoken to in a long time or
where fights were going on. People prone to depression
may find the grieving process more difficult than
someone with a more positive personality.
Stages of Grief
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed
five stages of grief based on her work with
terminally-ill patients. The five stages are denial,
anger, bargaining, depression, and, acceptance. These
stages serve as a good blueprint for what types of
emotions people may experience after the death of a
Grief vs. Depression
Symptoms of depression may accompany grief. However,
major depression is a psychological disorder that
requires long-term treatment and care. Grief is a
healthy human response; it should not be treated with
antidepressants or medication. Grief can evolve into
depression under certain conditions. Any one suspecting
this to be occurring should seek the professional
opinion of a psychiatrist or counselor.
Coping With Grief
Surround yourself with supportive, loving people is the
best way to cope with the loss of a loved one. Dealing
with grief alone is a dangerous and unhealthy idea. Find
a discussion group or seek out a counselor if you need
to talk with professionals and others that have gone
through similar experiences. Find a friend to share time
with, even if its just watching a movie at home or
taking a walk. There is no embarrassment in sharing your
time with people that are willing to offer you the
support you need, regardless of what form that support
Some find that a creative outlet, such as painting or
keeping a memorial journal, is a good way to bring their
minds out from under the burden of grief. Families often
find that creating an online memorial or a memorial
scrapbook helps give them a sense of peace as well as a
place to always go back to and remember their loved one.
Don't be ashamed of whatever form your grief manifests
itself in so long as it is not self-destructive or
detrimental to your long-term health.
Grief and Trauma
It is important to be aware of the how trauma may have
an affect on the grieving process. Trauma is a disabling
reaction to the unexpected death of a loved one that may
block or hinder the grieving process and can lead to
more damaging psychological problems. If you think you
might be experiencing trauma, you should seek
By recognizing your grief and making strides to work
through it in a safe and healthy way, your ability to
cope with your emotions and move forward will be easier.