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Good Grief

Turn Bad Times into Good Opportunities

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Great article. One that I will refer to often. Report
Dean, I always find your articles insightful, but you've outdone yourself this time! (I hope one of your goals is to write a book or have your own TV show at some point. I'd be first in line to buy/watch.)

I've done considerable reading about the grieving process, beginning back in 1981 or so, when I was first dealing with the emotions of having been diagnosed with a chronic illness.

What I've learned has helped me cope with many--and many different kinds of--losses since then. And of course it's all helped me support others when they were faced with losses.

Most of your article served chiefly as a concise review of what I'd already learned either from reading or through experience. But one element was new to me, and I expect that it will prove to be a hugely helpful perspective.

The initial stage (denial/numbness) has always been easy for me to view as essentially adaptive/protective. But until reading your article today, I had never thought about how the *other* stages might also be not just necessary evils, but actually adaptive--that is, involving "things [we] need to do to provide [ourselves] with the same open, compassionate, and supportive response [we'd] like to provide to others when something bad happens to them"--for example, that anger isn't just a stage to get through, or even just a natural response, but may actually be *helpful* in keeping us from "being overwhelmed by debilitating feelings like helplessness and powerlessness" (a tendency that painful experience has taught me that I must vigilantly guard against if I don't want to wind up clinically depressed).

Thanks so much for all you contribute to the SP community. And thanks especially for this piece. Report
A very timely article, indeed! I read it sometime last year, but it really hit home today. Two high school seniors in our town were in a car accident a week ago during a storm. One boy only lived a few days. Today was his funeral. There are a lot of grieving people around here.

Also, tomorrow will be the 2cd anniversary of my Mom's death. I've been mopey for days. Thanks, Dean, for a much-needed reminder that this is normal! Report
NJ_HOU
Thank you for writing the article, however, I found it superficial. I agree with DLROSE51. When I lost my husband of 33 years it was the greatest shock I've ever been through. Placing that loss in the lump with being laid off was for me not even in the same universe. My signature changed once I sort of woke up out of the miasma. I think each person experiences the change differently and some people get to say goodbye to their loved ones which might or might not help. Grief teaches you compassion for yourself if nothing else. Maybe for some not a lot when the person might feel guilt but you must have some for yourself to help you through the rough times when you hear that song, hear a laugh, smell the cologne, etc. Report
What a fantastic article. It really helps to know that it is ok to feel less than great and that I am allowed to grieve for as long as I need to. Thank-you to the author. Report
It is really interesting to read this article and all of the comments posted. I agree with a lot of what the article has to offer and also see many points that others have made.

I lost my Mother when I was a teenager in 1991 and it took a really long time to go through some of my emotions and to come to better terms with my loss. Some people were also very surprised when I would still get emotional about her even after so many years since her death.

Now I just lost a sister two weeks ago and I am dealing with a completely different set of emotions. She lived with me and had some health problems I was trying to help her with. She passed in a tragic way resulting from a seizure. All of the guilt, and anger, really all of my emotions have been worked through and felt in a completely different way this time.

The grieving process has been so different and I do believe that for every person it is quite individual. At the same time, I agree that you can group many of these emotions into certain catagories. It helps me to see from an outside perspective some of the things I am going through and that there are others feeling very similar to me. It really helps me to continue on my process to heal.

Thank you for the article. I enjoyed it very much.

Melinda Report
Thank You, Dean. Your articles are always thought-provoking, eye-opening, and truly helpful. Report
"the biggest problem people experience during the grieving process is getting "stuckā€ on a certain stage."
My brother committed suicide in 1996. And I have been in the anger and guilt stage since 1998. I have printed this article and posted it where I can see it everday. I felt bad about wanting to move on but now I know that I dont have to do it alone.
Thanks for the article. Misty Report
MRE1956
Good article; I'm dealing with parental and job loss issues right now and I'd have to say I'm cycling through the numbness, anger and depression stages right now (I've never been much of a bargainer). Report
When your parent has dementia, it seems the steps of grieving happen in slow motion. Report
Thanks Coach Dean, I needed to see the words to what I am feeling. My Mom is in her last few months of life and I've been one of her caregivers since 2003. It has been a gift in some ways but makes the time sorrowful too knowing how there will be a void when she is gone. Your words are powerful and a gift also. Report
I so needed an article like this right now.My Hubby has just been diagnosed with a terminal condition and I am experiencing many of these feelings that I do not know how to handle. Report
Thank you for this article. I have always admired the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her outline of the stages of grief. Loss can be felt over any change, small or large.
Report
I SO needed this article today. My Grandmother is dying and it hurts worse than I could've imagined. I had begun to tell myself to stop "bleeding" all over the place, as I've discussed it in two of my blogs. I'd begun to feel like I'm annoying people and obsessing over it. Now I know that this was my way of dealing with it. Thank you for the validation. I feel somewhat better already. Report
Hmmm. I always found the Kubler-Ross model (the stages of grief mentioned here and originally written in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's "On Death and Dying") a bit patronising. Maybe it's because I never found knowing about them particularly helpful.

I appreciate that the article does not contextualise them as a linear, finite process, but I still have some questions about their innate oversimplification of what is an extremely personal and complex process.

You can find studies that seem to validate it and some that don't; studies that show grief is best worked through quickly, some that say it can never be truly worked through. Seems to me that grief, like love, is just something we've not really figured out yet. Report

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