We don’t grieve well alone

By Tracy Lee
Special to the Sun

As a professional license holder, I must accomplish yearly continuing education (CE) credits as required by the states in which I practice. During her CE lecture last week, my professor offered an observation that I found to be especially profound; “We don’t grieve well alone.”

Her observation is one of complete truth. Survivors who withdraw from their support community will most likely find that their recovery time is extended. With this extension, survivors face additional difficulties that would otherwise be absent. With that in mind, one realizes that social contact is significant for survivors during recovery.

Grief is the body’s natural response to loss. When our loved ones die, the loss is permanent. Permanent loss equals permanent grief. The impact of loss strikes our core health; physically, emotionally, and psychologically.
“Close relationships help regulate our daily psychological and physical functioning. Their loss…typically leaves people feeling out of control and disoriented.” (Katherine Shear, MD)

In addition to close relationships; funerals, and other services surrounding the death of a loved one serve to assist mourners in their entrance and journey through the process of grief recovery.

The funeral brings together a community of mourners who can support each other through the bereavement process.

Grief experts and those who counsel the grieving believe that a funeral or other memorial type service is a necessary part of the healing process.
Further, they state that those who forego this traditional service run the risk of a complicated, extended, and exaggerated grief experience.
Formal services offer the reality of loss to the survivor and notify the support community that the survivor’s usual level of functioning may be compromised for a time.

During the early stages of bereavement, the preoccupation of your loss interferes with your ability to function at your normal capacity.

The critical thing to remember is that human beings are creatures of habit. Without the opportunity to say goodbye to a loved one, our minds and hearts continue to function as though our decedent remains living. The problem is that he/she is not living; he/she is dead. We must realize and accept this fact to be able to recover from his/her absence.

There is no fooling the soul. If you forgo the opportunity of proof (viewings, visitations, memorial services, funerals, and other traditional farewell and closure producing opportunities), the mind (in most cases) continues to function as though the decedent lives. At that point, those with a reliance upon the decedent develop conflict between their brain, their heart, and their soul. This conflict is based on confusion and an internal battle between the brain’s knowledge that death has occurred, and the impossible yearnings imposed upon the soul through the unrequited love remaining in the heart. This scenario is capable of inflicting brutal confusion, mind-boggling fantasy, and unbearable pain on the psychological future of the survivor.

Attending commemorative events helps us realize that death has occurred and ties us to our new reality of survival without the companionship of our loved one beside us. Surrounding oneself with supporters offers mental stability, loving comfort and understanding, and spiritual strength through the realities of life’s curveballs and the excruciating tortures of grief.

Reflecting on my professor’s statement, “We don’t grieve well alone,” and armed with the above information regarding the importance of final services; I hope that should you find yourself in the psychologically vulnerable position of pseudo-reality and withdrawal, that you would immediately seek assistance to set your journey back to a true course. To do so, you must reenter your social community, accept the death of your loved one, and quite possibly, seek the assistance of a grief recovery expert.

If you have turned away from your family and friends, they most likely remain faithful and concerned for your well-being. Reach out to them. If you have hurt them, ask for their forgiveness. You may even need to forgive yourself. Allow your loved ones to infuse love back into your world of sorrow and pain. Doing so will dissipate your loneliness and annihilate the delusions within your heart, mind, and soul. If you are unable to approach them on your own, enlist the assistance of a grief recovery expert.
Grief suffering is not the time to be alone. Reach out to others and find your way home to recovery.