Monday, December 10, 2012

Grief and Loss Never Take a Holiday

By Joshua Reiher, Medical Student

The holiday season is in full swing. This time of year is meant to celebrate life, love, family, and friends. However, the holidays can also be difficult, especially if you or someone you know has lost a loved one. Maybe you are grieving the loss of a grandparent, parent, child, sibling, spouse, friend, or pet. Loss is a normal part of being human, and we will all face it at some point. Other causes of grief that you may not have considered:
  • A loved one suffering from severe mental illness
  • Divorce or breakup after a long term relationship
  • Miscarriage during pregnancy
When a person experiences loss, he or she is said to be grieving. Grief is a natural emotional and physical response to any loss.
  • People feel a wide range of emotions such as sadness, anger, disbelief, denial, guilt, loneliness, regret, anxiety, acceptance, and many others.
  • Physically, people may undergo weight and/or appetite changes, decreased energy, lack of concentration, disturbances in sleep, loss of interest in sex, headaches, and so on.
Grief is a personal and individual experience—no two people grieve the same way. There is no one right or wrong way of grieving as long as it does not lead to behaviors that harm yourself or others. Bereavement is the period of time a person goes through grief following the loss of a loved one. Bereavement varies in duration and intensity, but it can last a year or longer in some cases.

Everyone is different, and reactions to loss are influenced by many factors such as:  
  • Cultural beliefs and religious traditions
  • Access to support and community resources
  • Relationship with the person who left / passed away
  • Personality and mental health history  
When to ask for help
While coping after a loss is painful and challenging, most people eventually find effective ways to heal and return to their daily life activities such as school or work. Some people, however, have more difficulty with recovering from a loss, and their emotional and physical symptoms do not improve. They may develop a psychiatric illness called depression. If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, there are many treatments available including:  
  • Talk therapy
  • Community support groups with other people who have similar experiences
  • Medications such as antidepressants
Additional resources to consider:

1 comment:

  1. Most bereaved people find the holidays to be a difficult time of the year. Accept that these times are difficult. Tell yourself that it is ok to be sad. Don't criticize yourself for being emotional. Your emotions are related to your love. It is important to own them and honor them. Try and find pleasurable activities for yourself and the other people alive. It is important to remember that you need to restore pleasure and satisfaction in your life. You need to rethink your own plans and build in activities that provide the possibility of happiness and joy. Holidays are good times to look for small things that can be fun or pleasurable.


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