Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Dealing With Grief

All of us at some time in our lives will experience grief following the loss of a loved one.

The terrible events that took place in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday last year in 2019 would have brought home to all of us the sadness and bewilderment that we can experience when faced with such a tragic and devastating loss.

Grief is a simple word used to describe the complex and often inexplicable reaction we suffer following a loss – not only the loss of a loved one due to death but also the suffering evoked by loss of home, health or possessions. This process of loss can involve a host of reactions that can be intense and unfamiliar, leaving us feeling helpless, frustrated, sad, confused, angry – or all of the above.

Our first reaction when we experience this type of loss is to feel disbelief and numbness. It may take a while before we start to feel that intense hurt of our loss. We may be surprised that the rest of the world around us continues unchanged even when we know our own world has been shattered.

In the days, weeks and months that follow, some of the initial reactions will resolve as Time goes by and we may pass through other stages of what psychologists term the “Grief Reaction” – anger, sadness and finally acceptance. Some of us reach the stage of acceptance earlier than others – while some may be find it hard for a long time to move beyond the anger or the sadness. We often need to blame someone for our loss – this usually abates as we come to terms with our loss – but some of us may remain in a state of deep sadness or grief for months or years.

After we have lost someone near and dear to us we may experience situations – and this is quite common – like seeing our loved one’s face in a crowd of people, having dreams involving that person or being suddenly overcome by an immense feeling of sadness and crying when smelling a particular scent or hearing a particular piece of music that we associate with the one we lost.

It is also common after a sudden loss to imagine all the “what ifs”, perhaps even experiencing a sense of guilt and blaming ourselves for the loss. Some bereaved folk may want to die themselves, feeling that their own lives have lost purpose. Going into depression – withdrawing from family and friends, losing interest in things one enjoyed previously, having feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear, worthlessness or guilt – is not uncommon.

There are some things we can do to help us cope with the grief process until we (as almost all of us do in the course of time, however difficult it may appear to us initially) reach the stage of acceptance.  We need to recognise that out grief is a natural part of the healing process, and give ourselves time to recover. Grief cannot be “cured” by medications or alcohol – but talking to your doctor may help in the initial stages when you may find it difficult to sleep.

It is helpful to attend memorials and ceremonies held in remembrance of our loved one, as this allows us to meet and talk with others who may be feeling the same way as us. It is beneficial, even though it may be difficult, to talk with others who have experienced such loss and grief – and also to ask for help from family, friends and if necessary health practitioners or religious advisers.




This entry was posted on August 15, 2019 by in Health Matters and tagged , , .

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