Recurrent Breast Cancer

Friday, November 2, 2012

Grief is the internal feeling one experiences when a loved one dies. Bereavement is the state of having experienced that loss.

*Prolonged or complicated grief persists more than a year. It can trigger relationship breakup and job loss.
*A third of those receiving mental health services have extended grief.
*Unexpected or violent death of a loved one can lead to major depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and prolonged grief.
*Three of four women outlive their spouse. More than half of U.S. women are widowed at age sixty five.

*According to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, there are five states of grief: denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, and acceptance. These stages may not progress in this order. Most grieving survivors experience two or more of these stages:
*Denial: "I/she/he didn’t/can’t be dying/dead.”
*Anger: "Why me/she/he?"
*Guilt: “I could have prevented the death if only …. .”
*Bargaining -- "If I do such and such, can I delay/ death for a while?"  This includes attempting to   bargain with whatever God the person believes in. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. "Can we still be friends?" when facing a break-up.
Acceptance/hope -- "I accept the death of …. . He/she passed away. It’s no one’s fault.”

Negative effects of a grief reaction:
*These stages may occur in different order and can reoccur many times as part of an individual's specific grief process. 
*Forty percent of bereaved people suffer from an anxiety disorder in the first year after the death of a loved one. A surviving spouse has up to a seventy percent increase in death risk for surviving spouse within the first six months. Grief triggers remind the bereaved person of their loved one. This may be launched during the loved one’s birthday or cleaning out the deceased person’s effects.

 Coping tips: Journaling one’s feelings may provide comfort. However, limiting the time to fifteen minutes a day is reasonable. Stretching the time beyond that could worsen sadness and guilt. A supportive structure can help aggrieved people assimilate their loss. Fixed eating and sleeping schedules, extra rest, and keeping in touch with loved ones are helpful. Forgiving the faults of the lost loved one can go a long way toward healing. 

The encouraging part of grieving: Working through the stages of grief can lead to personal development. 

“There are other things I am resigned to, like wrinkles and creeping gray. My youth, my boundless what destination did time fly? Slipping away, one year, one week, one day at a time.  Somewhere in this letting go, there is something to be gained. In this upside down world of eternity, death becomes life, emptiness becomes fullness, and mourning becomes joy. Let it go....”

For questions or comments, contact Dr. Clem at