Thursday, November 12, 2009

Coping with grief and loss ..

Dear you,
There was a death in my family last week :( . My mousaji(i.e. my mother’s only sister’s husband) died on the evening of 3rd Nov’09. He was 62 and was quite healthy but unfortunately died due to a case of undetected jaundice and due his own insistence that he is all well despite some warning signs.
After personally experiencing the sense of grief my aunt and her only son(aged 26) going thru, while i tried my best to comfort them, i was quite disturbed by the whole episode. I was in native place for around 3 days over last week doing the best i could - while musing over the topic of “Death - which is ofcourse inevitable for anyone”. But my thoughts are more focussed on “How one should cope with grief and a sense of loss“.
Death of someone near and dear is nothing but a massive change that falls upon an individual - so i was quite clear that it is a special case for Change Management although i was clear that there is definitely more to it. I was looking up for references on Coping with grief and sense of loss. Mostly such emotions occur only during loss of loves ones - while it is also possible incase other painful situations like divorce or even say a job loss - but may be with less intensity. While understandably it is change management at a generic level - grief will go through it’s own unique stages.
Some people always do better than others in terms of dealing with grief, here are the various stages talked about and i could find so much parallel - with each of the stages in terms of what i witnessed in close quarters. While the stages are represented to be somewhat sequential in nature - how much time a mourner spends in a phase can considerably vary from one another. Also a particular phase that is already past can easily resurface upon a trigger.
Reference is below - but after having read thru phases and finding much parallel in terms of what i had witnessed in close quarters - i am choosing the restate the content phases in my own words. Part of the reason is that this link is blocked by proxy as well and as i am writing this note i am unable to refer to the link myself and hence the need to restate the content based on my recollection.
1. Numbness and shock - This is what usually describes the initial reaction when the news is first broken to close relative - particularly when the death is least expected out of the loved one.
2. Denial and disbelief - After the initial reaction, the most usual reaction is deny that the event has not happened as it is quite easy thing to do - than face the reality and the consequences.
3. Pain and anguish - While first few phases may last only few minutes once the event registers well into the mind, one has to deal with inevitable pain associated with the loss. Usually it is in this phase all the wailing and brow-beating takes place and it can be quite painful for a close observer as it was for me.
4. Anger - In this phase we find outbursts from the grieving person onto anyone who can be blamed or held accountable for the loss of the dear one. It is in this phase they vent out their frustration and this phase can be difficult to bear for people in close quarters. This phase is particularly difficult one - as inevitable some of the the near and dear ones will be subjected to lot of outbursts as it was the case in my family. My old grand parents who are still alive have unfortunately got some flak from my mousi and it is a very difficult phase.
5. Bargaining - This is the phase where the mourner starts getting into a What if kind of analysis and the associated thoughts. If only i get a second chance - how would i approach the situation is the most common refrain. The plea is mostly with the God - to be given a second chance where some kind of avoidance measure could have been adopted. While an observer knows that there is absolutely no use with this kind of what if analysis - which goes again and again - apparently it is an important grief coping mechanism nevertheless.
6. Depression and guilt - During this phase, the mourner is consumed by guilt for not having acted such and such way because there is realization that the inevitable has already happened. All things that could have been done by either the mourner herself or some other person is agonizingly thought and over analyzed during this time.
7. Acceptance - By the very term this phase means the mourner is ready to accept the loss of the loved one and ready to move with what needs to be done. Reaching this phase can be agonizing long - ofcourse there is never a gaurantee that a relapse into an earlier phase does not happen, because for that all it needs is a small trigger and there are always enough triggers ready to go off all around you.
8. Hope - By this phase we are indicating that the mourner is now future focussed and hopeful having dealt with most of the grief and sense of loss. How much one would wish that mourner really fast forwards to get into this phase? Is n’t it ?
Note: Well - i am not quite sure, why i wanted to write this particular note. May be it is my way of dealing with the grief and also leaving a something as a reference - for anyone needing to do their own coping bit. Not that i would wish it for anyone even in my dreams - but simply because such experiences can not be simply ‘wished away’
-J2M (Journey to Mastery) - Hopefully it is not a Mystery

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