Have you ever lost a loved one? If you have you know that it is probably one of the most difficult, yet inevitable tasks to deal with in life. Bereavement experts gather data on how to deal with the loss, and if you have lost a loved one, you know that any was of easing the pain is welcome. While many aspects of coping have been studied, it is also important to know that there are individual patterns of grieving for every one of us. For many years, grief has been broken down into stages. One cycle was made famous by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross M.D. Her period was that of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Recently, however, researchers have found that for many, not all stages apply. Camille Wortman Ph. D. and Roxanne Cohen-Silver Ph.D. found that many people have individual patterns such as unending grief, and others showed no distress to the loss at all. It was also found that some people who do not grieve were physically and mentally healthier 6 and 14 months after the loss to those that openly mourned. The recovery period is also different for different people. While some people accept the fact that a loved one is gone within a year, others find that the second year is much harder.
To a loved one, when someone is lost abruptly, they seem to really realize the loss during times when they would normally see or need that person, at a holiday for example. When this happens a number of times, the person may enter a state of shock, which will greatly slow the recovery period sometimes into extended periods of time. Another question that is raised in individual grieving is in the difference between male and female patterns. A recent study at the University of Kentucky showed that men grieve in a way that doesn’t seem like grieving at all. Women normally talk and cry about what they lost whereas men will think and act. For example, if a man’s father died, many times he will take up a hobby that his father did, such as fishing or martial arts etc. No matter how we grieve, it is better to recover as quickly as possible seeing as how 1/3 of grievers suffer mental and physical effects. From depression to anxiety, impaired immune response to heart disease-just to name a few. Even something as little as not sleeping as well can weaken the system. A recent study at the University of Pittsburgh showed that disrupted sleep in elderly mourners lessens the white blood cell count, therefore leaving them open to more illnesses. Another study done showed that grievers who had something to turn to, specifically religiously got through the recovery period much more quickly than those who do not. According to Holly Prigerson, Ph.D., of Yale University, “Bereaved individuals who relied on religion to cope generally used outpatient services less frequently.” In short, people who have strong spiritual beliefs seem to solve grief more rapidly and completely than those with none. Some helpful tips in assisting a friend in grieving are: To not force your methods of grieving, people are different and have different ways of dealing with this rough time. Avoid minimizing the loss-don’t ever tell someone to just “get over it.” Be more of a listener. Be aware that you cannot solve the problem and can only help the process. You are there to just be with that person, as they would be there for you. This article really hits close to home and I wish I would have read it a few years back. I lost my father when I was nine, and I remember the whole process as being devastating to me, as well as the rest of my family. I remember just breaking down for a few weeks, not really able to do anything. That period was just a trying time that I don’t feel like I could have gotten through if it wasn’t for my spiritual beliefs and the help of my mother. She was amazingly strong through that whole ordeal. I do remember crying-a lot, but I also remember just venting through doing things that he did such as fishing or building items, just as this article said men would do. The recovery period was not an overextended one, however. I got over it in about a month, but when holidays or his birthday came around, that feeling came back to me for a little while after- I would say about a year. Now, I do remember my father and do look back sometimes to things I would have liked to have done different, but you can never regret anything you do in life, especially in a situation like this. I in turn, was the man of the house, but at nine it was a little difficult. That I remember getting over quickly and in turn it kind of through me into maturity a little quicker than I would have liked, but nonetheless it happened and I have built on it. I really feel that that experience has made me stronger mentally and will help me later in life.
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