October 18, 2012
Grief or bereavement is often thought of as a time-limited process with a beginning and an end. After experiencing a loss whether after a death, divorce or the birth of child with special needs, people are told to move on with their lives or “just get over it already.” Many people become angry with themselves for not moving on with their lives in what they consider a more timely manner. Acute grief, for the most part, does not last a life time. But grief is a process that can last a lifetime and undergoes many changes and manifestations. One can never get over the loss of a loved one or the birth a child with a disability. However, one learns how to accept the change that has occurred in one’s life.
For example, losing a spouse doesn’t mean that one cannot achieve happiness again. But life events such as the birth of a grandchild or the marriage of a child will renew feelings of grief. There is no time limit on the acute grief process. The overwhelming feelings of initial bereavement can take various lengths of time–there is no right of wrong way to grieve. I always find it strange when asked how the grief-stricken individual is doing and the answer is “not too well.” How I react to that is “how should a person being doing — they should feel totally devastated.” I become concern when the grieving individual acts too composed.
Thankfully, after most losses individuals can achieve happiness in their lives and learn to gain pleasure in daily activities. However, our expectations of how long people grieve and how one should act need to be altered. Grieving is such a personal experience and takes many shapes and forms.
Nancy Fish, LCSWMy clinical practice includes clients requiring treatment for depression, anxiety, anger management, chronic illness, chronic pain, special needs issues and grief. I work with individuals, couples, and families.