It is a sad fact of life that people die. When people die, about 2.5 million each year nationally, they typically leave behind four to five people that are brokenhearted. About the only way to avoid this type of grief sometime in your life is to avoid relationships and of course you still have parents.
Recent National Institute of Health (NIH) studies have taught researchers some things about how survivors deal with grief and feelings in general. It goes deeper than what was known before.
In the past it was pretty much thought that everyone went through five different stages of grief. These were denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. People may or may not go through these stages. It turns out that within six months most people have come to grips with the loss and have moved on to some degree or another.
However here is a key and it is very, very important. How people react to death has to do with the way the person died and what relationship the survivor had to them.
For example you may have a 94-year-old grandmother whom you love dearly. However she may be suffering greatly with cancer and is not with the program sometimes. When she dies you will be sad. However there will be a part of you that will be comforted because you know she isn’t suffering anymore. On the other hand if you have a child killed in an auto accident you will not only be shocked but you will wish you could have died for them. You might wonder if there was something you forgot to tell them and you will feel terrible they didn’t’ get to live a long life and also on a selfish level you won’t get to see what would have happened in their life.
These two scenarios will create much different responses in the hearts and minds of the survivors.
The main point of the study however, was to examine grief in people that lasted beyond six months in a way that interfered with life.
Some people cannot get over the death of a loved one. They can’t function. They feel they can’t live without them or they can’t come terms with the death.
The research has found that talk therapy, specific to this kind of loss in conjunction with antidepressants, will help a person cope. In some cases involving caregivers of a terminally ill relative, it has been found that it is actually beneficial to treat depression before the relative dies.
If you lose a loved one there are a number of things you can do.
While you won’t feel like it, exercise. It is very important because it creates the “feel-good” hormones in your brain. Talk to your friends. Avoid the urge to isolate yourself. Find a grief support group. No one can understand what you are going through like someone else who is going through it. Above all don’t make major changes in your life.
Make no mistake about it. Death of a loved one changes you. My father died tragically at age 48 when I had only been married two years. To know he would never see my kids and they see him broke my heart.
The best thing I have found when losing someone is to live in a way that you think would make them proud.
“Coping With Grief,” Article, NIH News in Health, November 2009