As we go through life, we experience loss - both the predictable losses that accompany developmental changes, such as going off to school or separating from parents, and the unanticipated losses such as divorce, illness or death. Occasionally, we are confronted with publicized tragedies that touch us deeply as well.
Grief has been defined as a normal response to a loss. Through the writings and research of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD, and others, we have come to identify stages of the grief process to include: shock and denial; rage and anger; and then grief and pain. Later, some may go through a bargaining stage.
They are, in effect, buying time to deal with the intensity of the situation.
Others become depressed and may withdraw into themselves, separating themselves from others. Their depression may be silent and not shared. In this stage, there is no bright side, and life does not seem worth living anymore. Nor are there soothing words that can alleviate one's state of mind. When we have been allowed, and allow ourselves, to express our anger and deep sadness, we can move to a state of peace and acceptance. This, Kubler-Ross tells us, is a period of quiet meditation, resignation, even of peaceful, though not joyful expectancy of what may lie ahead.
Grief has no specific time lines, nor does each person spend the same amount of time in each stage. We may revisit a stage periodically or pass through stages in a different sequence. And each time we grieve, the experience may be different. Moreover, grief for each person may express itself in different forms, with different symptoms, especially regarding sleep patterns, appetite, energy levels, concentration, focus, and patience regarding time. Grief is, at the same time, a unique and a universal phenomenon.
If you, a friend or family member are grieving the loss of a loved one and are having difficulties with sleep, motivation, concentration or relationships with others, your EAP (Employee Assistance Program) is a safe and comfortable place to go for assistance.
To review this article or others from the Business Psychology Associates (Idaho's Employee Assistance Program provider), visit the Web site.