VARIABLES TO YOUR GRIEVING PROCESS
BY Jeanne M. Harper, MPS
Your grieving process is unique...it is YOURS. There are many
reasons...variables...for the differences in your grief-social,
physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual or financial. Some of
the variables may include:
your age - age makes a difference: in our ability to
understand death, dying, future, problems/opportunities, etc; in
our ability to get around (go to store, meetings, church, etc)
your sex - men may grieve quite differently from women due to
old stereotypical roles/rules: men don't cry; men/women may not
know how to shop for food, do the wash, etc; women/men may not know
how to pay the bills, do the taxes, fix the car or sink, etc
your life experiences - how have you dealt with other losses
in your life? when were these losses/deaths? is this your first
death of a loved one? If experienced grieve before, you know what
normal is, like having concentration and memory (short term or long
term) problems. When the right side of the brain is overloaded
with feelings/emotionsl the left side, cognitive-thinking side has
a difficult time functioning. So you may leave the stove on and
forget it...you may lose your keys or other important items,
forgetting where you put them. Grief Support Groups help you learn
what is normal in grief.
your individual personality, coping style, adjustment - are
you the type that holds your feelings/concerns inside? or do you
talk or holler them out for others to hear? or are you the type
that WORKS your feelings and need to keep busy so NOT to feel? are
you the type that will ask for help? will ask questions? is willing
to learn? or are you the type that will work it out on your own?
your family communications, myths and attitudes about loss or
death - was it alright for you to talk of death and dying in your
family? did your family believe and need you to get over it? did
your family believe in life after death? what did they believe in
about death and dying? did they say, death is over so why cry?
your family cultural background and current environment -
stereotypically, was your family culture Italian where they expect
you to cry, wail and lament? or was it German, where they expect
you to not show emotions in public and to be stoic? or was it
Polish or Scotch/Irish, where they celebrated the life that was
with memories, food and friends? or was it Jewish with its time-
honored rituals of shiva, etc? The grieving style of significant
adults around you will make a difference as to how you allow/expect
yourself to grieve now.
your health - are you in good physical health? or do you have
chronic pain or illness? This can deplete your emotional energy as
well and make your grieving process more difficult. Are you having
aches and pains since the death? These are common. Make an
appointment for a complete physical to relieve yourself of negative
your support system - do you have good friends and family who
will allow you to grieve YOUR way? who support you with love, care
and space? does your church support your grief? does your
communlty have a support group for those who are bereaved?
your resources available - does your library or church
library have tapes and books for those who are grieving? does your
community have trained grief counselors who offer individual,
family and/or group therapy? are your funeral directors supportive
and informed to assist you with the many details?
your financial resources - were there lots of medical bills to
be sent to medicare, medicaid, insurance? will your portion of the
bills overwhelm you? was there a will? was there insurance monies
to help with the bills, etc? do you have a good insurance agent
who can be supportive and help you through? do you have a good
lawyer and/or accountant to assist you with the tax and legal
issues? will you have an income? will you need to return to the
workforce? will you need to get trained in order to find work?
will you need babysitting services? what's available in your
your relationship with the deceased - are there secondary
losses due to the death, i.e. widow/er loses mate but also partner
in raising the children and/or cannot stay in the home due to
financial constraints-so now they lose their spouse AND their
home. Did you have a good relationship with the deceased, or was
it up and down or love/hate? what was the last experience with the
deceased like for you? how did the person who died influence your
life? how much of your day involved caring or being with them?
how much did they do FOR you?
your preparedness for the death - did you have time to say "I
love you" "please forgive me"? or was it sudden without time to
clean the slate and say what needed to be said?
SUGGESTION NOTE: If you didn't have time...take the
time now and write them a Goodbye letter telling them everything
you feel you need to...then mail it, as one child did, he dug a
hole at the grave and MAILED IT; or burn it and SEND it
symbolically; or attach it to a helium balloon and SEND it to them
by lettinq it qo to the sky.
the nature of the death - where did the death take place? was
it sudden and no time to prepare or say goodbye? was it expected,
for a few hours, days, weeks? was it lengthy, like with cancer,
where it gets to feel like relief when they die and are no longer
suffering? did the medical profession provide you with information
to help you understand what was happening? was it by suicide where
there maybe lots of questions, fears, guilt, anger, etc? was it by
homicide or negligence (like with drunken or reckless drivers
killing your loved one) where they maybe lots of anger and
questions at the person who caused the death?
These are a few of the variables that can create differences in
your grieving process.
copyright-1994 ALPHA-OMEGA VENTURE P.O.Box 735 Marinette, Wi 54143-0735
715 / 735-9549
Last update: 20th March 1996
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