VARIABLES TO YOUR GRIEVING PROCESS BY Jeanne M. Harper, MPSYour 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 thoughts/fears. 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 community? 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.
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Last update: 21st January 2001
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