Everyone faces grief at one point or the other in their life. It is an inescapable reality of human existence. People are not abnormal or weak because they experience grief. They are merely touching the depths of the human experience, the chasm between what we wanted — and what is.
Many of us think of grief as the emotional pain surrounding the physical death of someone we love, but grief is much more complex, much more fundamental to our lives and the way we choose to live.
When we experience a profound loss, we often find that the devastating pain of grief completely undermines our view of the world and reality.
We are caught in the agonising despair of our grief because we continually attempt to use our minds to resolve it, or to help us ignore it.
The real healing of grief can’t take place until we make the journey from the mind to the heart. And when the heart is broken, the thought of re-entering it is terrifying. But, the heart is precisely where the healing takes place. And when it is broken, it is also wide open. If we can meet our grief, with courage and awareness, it can be the key that unlocks our hearts and forces us into profound new experiences of life and love.
Death alters the course of daily life for all those closest to the person who has died. If someone close to you has died, you must accept that things will change, whether the change is small or immense. It is irreversible and your life must now follow a different course.
Bereavement is a very complex issue. There is nothing unusual about grieving, it is “normal” and most people will make a “normal” recovery without a great deal of assistance. Some, however get stuck somewhere in the process of recovery and need help.
Others (fortunately, only a few) are so affected by their bereavement that the grief gets out of hand. In such cases treatment as well as assistance is needed, counsel as well as care.
Most of the time, bereavement causes a great deal of pain. Many people as stated before, do not acknowledge this fear that they will be marked out as weak and abnormal. Family and friends will often avoid people who have lost partners, parents, children or close friends, usually because they are embarrassed and do not know what to say. They often excuse their feelings of embarrassment and helplessness by saying; “Grief is a very private affair I don’t want to intrude”.
So, the bereaved are often deserted just when they need most support, which leads them to believe that it is their pain and tears that cause others to shun them. They therefore make determined efforts to “be strong”and suppress their natural emotional responses. More than anything else, this hinders recovery from grief.When loss has occurred and the bereaved person has been diverted from the accustomed courses of life, a number of psychological forces come into effect.
As indicated earlier, the different stages of grief that a person may go through include shock, sorrow, anger, apathy and depression before the process of recovery can begin.
Not everyone experiences all these emotions and some stages may last longer than others.
In other words, everyone is different. Because we live in a fast paced society, we often sweep grief under the carpet, or ignore it altogether (Page 1-C Makina- Grief and healing Series July 14, 2010).
Medical experts now know that unresolved grief can cause such health problems as headaches, depression, back pain, and even heart diseases and cancer.
lChomi Makina is the President of the Zimbabwe Association of Funeral Assurers (ZAFA) and Group Chief Executive Officer for Moonlight and Mashfords and can be contacted on