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Sliding Into Chronic Grief

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By Joseph A. Bailey, II, M.D.

Failing to resolve specific personal issues slides one into Chronic Grief. For those stuck inside the Grief Emotional Complex and do not know how to get out, writing down obvious or possible causes is an effective means for detecting the truth about actual causes; for gaining answers as to how causations came about; and for what to do about them. Let us look at some of the more common superficial normal issues. First, perhaps almost everyone thinks: "What will my life be like after the grieving period?" or "What will I have left?" An approach out is to take charge and control of ones own life. Though nothing can fill the emptiness left by the loss, still good things can be built around it with whatever makes things better for oneself and for others. This takes hard work. Second are people engaged in "What ifs"?--as in referring to the the "good old days." Honesty and realism are required to determine if your memory of good is simply a mirage--the good experienced in memory. Could it be the past was not as good as it now seems to be? Still, there is no point in engaging in "What ifs" because it is too late; because it burns precious energy; and because it takes up mental space better used for important things. It is beneficial, however, to enjoy the good memories of the past. A "What if" or a "What might have been" in referring to the future is often about not seeing a child develop or in not getting to know the child. Religious practices (e.g. prayer) are soothing and/or Philosophical contemplations may help here.

Then there are somewhat deeper issues which could cause Chronic Grief. One is the honest person becoming aware of receiving benefits from grieving apart from the contingent facts (e.g. the loss of a loved one). Instead, the main concern confronts an emptiness having nothing to do with the Trigger Core loss--e.g. "who is going to support me?" Another example occurs when people make unhealthy grieving a way to bring meaning into their lives. Some even go so far as to make a habit to anticipate anguish which never arrives. It is easy for them to shed tears over imagined old grief. This is like those who use revenge for entertainment. Surrounding their void may be guilt, fear, fright, or anger concerning some omission (failed to do) or commission (doing what was not in ones best interest and/or the best interest of others). Their clutching to the Grieving Process might be a way to make life interesting.

More often than not the "Atmosphere of Despair" Complex (ADC) causes chronic grief. Other examples include such Unresolved issues as: (1) unfinished business--e.g. failing to live up to the deceased or your own expectation. Many times sons/daughters wrongly believe the deceased parent had very high hopes for certain achievements for which they fell short. In such situations, get to the truth of how the deceased really felt by asking those close to him/her. Set a goal to keep climbing the steps of achievement and then do it. (2) harsh last words and/or (3) the failure to grant the final wishes of the deceased can cause ones thoughts, emotions, expressions, and behaviors to adversely influence multiple areas in ones life. Such is commonly seen if a son/daughter is chronically angry with the deceased parent. I have seen instances of a son/daughter having the ability to do great things but their psychological rage prevents them from being motivated or from not knowing how to get there or "giving up" too soon. Unreleased rage is likely to manifest as psychosomatic illnesses for which medicines are taken. Otherwise, to dull their emotional/Spiritual Pain, some get addicted to food or to drugs. If it is too late to "talk it out" an effective method is to write the Deceased a letter and say everything felt. Then burn that letter over the gravesite or talk about your deep emotions, sadness, fears, and disappointments over the grave. Or, if the deceased was cremated or there is no knowledge of how the body was disposed, the letter can be torn in pieces and either scattered in the ocean or by the wind over the edge of a high mountain. If possible, end either method on an up-note.

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