To Grieve or Not to Grieve
This is the question which many ask and do not understand. Some view a tragedy and fall silent. They believe that to show emotion is to be weak or worse that the person who is emotional is falling apart. Others believe that if we ignore the tragedy and we do not speak of it we will forget. This is erroneous thinking simply because the brain forgets nothing. So what do we do?
The answer is actually very simple. Whether we like it or not we will grieve a loss. But before I go any further let me define what such a loss can be. We will grieve the loss of anything that was important to us: a job, the end of a marriage, our children leaving home, the death of a pet and clearly the death of a loved one.
Grief is described as a process which we will all travel through upon suffering our loss. There are five stages identified by counselors; they are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We will all travel through these stages at our own pace and in no certain order. The grieving process is a very personal matter. What we must understand is that there is a way to arrive at acceptance and turn this tragedy into an acceptable memory. In order to do this we must work though the individual stages until we arrive there.
It has been my privilege to help many of my young men through some very difficult days. The primary objective has always been the same. To remind him that he was the lucky one, the fortunate one, because of all the good memories he only he had. It could have been anyone else, but it wasn’t it was him. Obviously, the examples and the specifics will vary from person to person.
When tragedy strikes we basically have two choices; to grieve the loss and keep our minds on the final moments, how it all ended and how tragic it was or we can grieve the loss and remember the wonderful memories. But we will grieve make no mistake of this. Sadness will be a normal part of this process and if the tears come let them. It will be normal to be sad, to doubt, to be angry, to play the scenario time and time again, to expect to see him and to say things to yourself such as, “I wish I had…. . All of this is normal. In the end you will accept it for what it is a tragedy and in so doing the event, in and of itself, will become a small memory compared to the many great memories you have to celebrate. This doesn’t mean you will not have times of emotion or tears. The difference will be that instead of tears of pain they will be tears of joy.
Your religious faith will be very important in going through this process. Having someone who will listen to you will also be very important. If you find yourself in deep sadness, lacking the motivation to meet your daily obligations, losing sleep or sleeping too much, eating very little or too much, or having other stress related physical reactions it may be time to seek the help of a professional. A person is not weak because they are grieving the loss of someone or something they cherished. That only means they are human.