Grief & Loss
The longer you live, the greater is your chance of suffering from a significant loss in your life. By age 70, 99 percent of Americans suffer from situational depression brought on by a significant loss in their lives. Loss of a spouse (death or divorce), a child, parent, sibling, close friend, wealth, social status, a job or career, a home or significant property, a body part, the ability to maintain a physical function (particularly comes with aging), or of a goal or vision all cause grief in individuals. When this grief is not handled appropriately, these individuals’ mental performance can suffer severely.
If an individual still suffer from emptiness, apathy, fatigue, or sadness a year after a major loss, he or she has slipped beyond grief into a major depression. It is important to take steps to overcome the situational depression before it becomes severe. Grieving individuals need to step back and analyze their thinking. The correct manner of processing loss is critical to longevity.
Accurate thoughts are essential in times of bereavement. Escaping to a fantasy land as a means of coping can actually be harmful in the long run. The individuals that do this are lying to themselves. Also dangerous are distorted thoughts, such as “I’ll never be happy again,” or “I can’t live without him.” These thoughts trigger a sense of hopelessness and self-pity, and may even lead to suicidal thoughts. This method will worsen the grief and depression.
The first stage of handling grief is shock and disbelief, but those individuals must develop an awareness of that loss. Finally, resolution needs to be made. It is important for those individuals not to linger on their sorrow, but to put it behind them. A natural grieving period may be healthy and necessary, but it is very important to work toward finding closure. There is no use in asking questions such as “What if…?” or pointing blame on themselves or others. This distracts from what you should be doing in the present. The past can’t be changed, no matter how hard one may try. The only reason to consider past mistakes, failures, or neglect is to learn from them. These irrational arguments are an obstacle to finding closure, which is a necessary stage for recovering. It is better to ask “What can I do to improve my situation now?”
Research suggests bringing closer to negative past experiences will help you to enjoy a better self-image and physical health. All who have suffered a loss should be focused on resolving current concerns. You must accept the reality of your loss. It may be helpful to work through the pain by writing a journal. It is essential to get adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise, which is important at all times, but especially essential when handling grief. Then you should decide how to adjust to the changed environment. In order to do that, identify the roles that the individual or job that you lost has played in your life, and find out how those functions can be met in the present. If they can’t be completely met, it is important for to recognize that. You may also want to find new interests as you the old ones (that were good). It is important to maintain social ties. Develop new routines and build on current or new relationships. Grow from the loss. Reflect on what you’ve learned or gained through the loss and let life become more meaningful to you.
[Source: The Lost Art of Thinking]