What is the process of grief?
What is the process of grief? Grief is a normal and natural reaction to any type of loss. It is an adaptive process that has several components. Grief has been defined, "A succession of clinical pictures which blend into and replace each other." It is not considered to be a set of symptoms. This same grief is not only associated with the loss in death, but also losses associated with losing something very crucial to our well-being, whether it be physically or emotionally.
The four dimensions of the process of grief are the following:
Shock and Numbness - Upon feeling this, there are feelings of being stunned associated with impaired judgment and functioning and short periods of concentration. These are readily visible to the rest of the world, and are set up as protection which people use to help themselves cope with a loss at their own pace. They are able to function, but unable to hear or to feel.
Yearning and searching - The person exhibiting this particular process of grief may be restless, angry, guilty, and have ambiguity which means the person is doubtful or uncertain about what is going on in his/her life. Usually, people want to withdraw and be left alone. There are a lot of questions asked about the "why and how" of their situation. There may be anger against God for allowing this to happen, or against others who may have been at the scene during the loss.
Disorientation and disorganization - Feelings associated with this are depression, guilt and unfamiliarity. This is the time when the illness or death becomes a "reality." At this point, physical and functional problems become more pronounced, and people may neglect their physical and nutritional needs. If tranquilizers are administered to the person exhibiting this stage, they will further distort reality and the grief process is slowed down.
Reorganization and resolution - There is increased energy, as well as heightened decision-making abilities along with an increased sense of self-confidence. This is the time of acknowledgement and bringing reality into focus. Although no one ever gets over the loss, a person gets through the process.
The intensity of these stages of grief change over time. The intensity within each stage rises and falls throughout the first two years following the loss, and it is also clear that the stages overlap.
There are protective mechanisms which may sometimes be placed within the person who is mourning in order to protect themselves from going through the process of grief. One of those is denial - blocking the conscious recognition of specific information; disbelief - not making sense of what is being told them; deferral - accepting the clinical findings of a loss, but ignoring the implications; dismissal - displacing the focus of the situation from the diagnoses to the legitimacy of the person whom they feel may be lying to them. There would be a lot of anger and sense of betrayal.
Learn more about grief process.
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