By CATHY BROWNFIELD
Family Recovery Center publicist
When the family gathers together the members reminisce and laugh about all the things they remember about growing up and being a part of a family.
When special days, like birthdays and anniversaries, Mother's Day and Father's Day roll around, profile pictures at Facebook are changed to remember those ones who have meant so much in life. Whether it has been a short time or a long while since someone has passed away, it takes time to heal the heart. Memories can trigger laughter and tears. Grief can linger a long while. The grief period is different for everyone.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' work, "On Death and Dying," was an interdisciplinary study of human fears about death and eventually our acceptance of it. She offered the five stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Everyone doesn't go through all of the stages and there is no order that they take. Each person has his or her own journey to follow. But it can be a long and challenging time to work through.
In denial, the goal is to survive, to just get through this loss of life. Numbness carries each mourner through the first days when it's necessary to handle a little at a time, just to get through the loss and events that immediately follow a death. Eventually questions begin to come to mind and the process of healing begins. Everything that was denied earlier now rises to be faced.
Anger toward people, doctors, even God brings questions. Although anger is considered strengthening, society considers it unacceptable.
But it helps bears up the mourner. Advises Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, "The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love." It's OK to feel the anger so you can deal with it and move on through healing.
Before the loved one dies, you might try to bargain with God to save them, let them continue to live. You just want your life to make sense again. "If only" is a question that comes along again and again when you are working your way through your grief. Grief is not something you can just "snap out of it." Guilt is a part of the bargaining stage. What if you had done something different? What if the illness had been found sooner? What if you'd known your loved one was in trouble and needed help? Why did this happen?
"We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt," writes Kubler-Ross and Kessler.
The present hurts as emptiness rises to awareness. It might seem like the pain and loss will last forever. It may appear that you are suffering mental illness, but this depression is not mental illness.
It is the correct response to the great loss that has been experienced. If you aren't sure, answer this question: Is your situation depressing or is the depression related to the loss of your loved one?
Eventually you come to terms with your loss. It may not be OK. You may not be OK with it, but you learn to accept the reality and live with that.
As life begins again, you learn to come out of that place, to overcome guilt for beginning to live and enjoy life again. But remember, grief takes time. Everyone grieves differently.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. For information about the agency's education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.