Grievers report either not being able to sleep or sleeping too much—or both, alternately.
Changed eating habits. Grievers tell us that they have no appetite or that they eat nonstop—or both, alternately. Roller coaster of emotional energy. Grievers talk about going up and down and in and out of feelings. As a direct result of these emotional highs and lows, grievers often feel emotionally and physically drained.
This reaction will be discussed in depth later in the book.
These are all normal and natural responses to loss. Their duration is unique to every individual. We will not predict for you how long they should last. They do not always occur. They are not stages. There are no stages of grief.
But people will always try to fit themselves into a defined category if one is offered to them. Sadly, this is particularly true if the offer comes from a powerful authority such as a therapist, clergyperson, or doctor. Do not allow anyone to create any time frames or stages for you. There are no absolutes in grief. There are no reactions so universal that all, or even most, people will experience Compounding the Problem 15 them. There is only one unalterable truth: All relationships are unique.
This absolutely incorrect claim is made to parents whose child has died, but it is also made in connection with other losses. Grieving parents and others then seek out information and emotions to match the untruth.
Last January we were talking with a woman whose daughter had committed suicide in the month of February several years earlier. As we talked, she told us that as February approached, she thought about her daughter more and more. Many of her thoughts and feelings were painful. We acknowledged the truth of her feelings and the logic of the renewed intensity as the painful anniversary date neared. Her eyes welled up with tears as she talked about her relationship with her daughter.
Instead, we asked her whether she often had fond memories of her daughter. She said yes. We asked how she felt when those fond and pleasant memories came to mind. She said they felt good. Other times, remembering her wonderful qualities, I feel happy and pleased to share my memories about her.
Earlier we mentioned that a sense of numbness and a reduced ability to concentrate are typical for grievers. In spite of those responses, grievers are willing to talk about the circumstances of the loss and to review the relationship they had. This review occurs with all losses.
Consequently, effective grief recovery can begin almost immediately. It is very easy to tap into that review and discover a multitude of undelivered emotional communications. Even the most loving and complete of relationships will end with some incompleteness. The accuracy of our memories is heightened by the loss itself. This can be an ideal opportunity to harvest an incred- Compounding the Problem 17 ible collection of memories. Grievers need and want to talk about their losses. It is typical for a family to talk immediately afterwards about the family member who died.
It is equally common following a divorce, retirement, pet loss, job loss, or physical change to talk about the good and bad experiences within those relationships or events. Talking about loss and about relationships is wonderful and good, but it is generally not enough to allow us to feel complete. We need to take additional actions to help complete the pain we discover as we talk about our relationships.
If you fell down and gashed your leg and blood was pouring out, would you immediately seek medical attention? The obvious answer is yes. If circumstances and events conspired to break your heart, would you seek attention immediately, or would you allow yourself to bleed to death emotionally? Pick one! Is it ever too soon to begin to recover? The first ten years of our grief recovery careers were devoted to helping funeral directors, cemeterians, and clergy better assist grieving people. Clearly, those professionals are helping grievers in the hours and days immediately following a death. It is never too soon to address your grief.
Focusing on the cause of a loss, such as suicide, murder, AIDS, or another tragic circumstance, tends to increase this isolation. Grief is by definition emotional. That is not to say that the cause of death does not generate emotion.
Unlocking the Grief Code: A Grief Recovery Manual Using Mind, Body & Spirit It is a to light during a family trauma, she set out to find lasting, healing solutions. Unlocking the Grief Code: A Grief Recovery Manual Using Mind, Body & Spirit Healing Soulutions (Hardback). Sandra Ruggles (author). Sign in to write a review.
Clearly, if someone we love dies in tragic circumstances, we will have volumes of feeling about the unfairness of it all. After acknowledging that we have been affected by the circumstances of a death, we must move immediately toward two larger truths. The first is a painful question.
Would you miss your loved one any less if he or she had died some other way? The answer is always no. And second, what is left emotionally unfinished for you as the result of this death? Earlier we talked about anger and denial not being helpful words for grievers.
Closure is another unhelpful and inaccurate word. Lawsuits may or may not serve justice. When the suit is over, however, you are still left with what is emotionally unfinished between yourself and your loved one who has died. At best, the lawsuit completes the crime or the infraction.
A lawsuit cannot help you become emotionally complete. We have seen people make a life cause out of the circumstances that took their loved one. We find nothing wrong with that. All of us in society benefit from heightened aware- Compounding the Problem 19 ness and increased oversight regarding the law, medicine, and other issues. Our lives are enhanced by the tireless efforts of these reformers. Sadly, though, most of them remain incomplete with their loved one who died.
Their tremendous expenditure of energy keeps them constantly distracted from the primary issue, their own unresolved grief. Some of you will have cause to pursue lawsuits, either civil or criminal, relating to the death or mistreatment of a loved one.
We encourage you to do the actions of grief recovery first. Completion will make you a better advocate. You will have more energy.