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Why It Is So Hard For Us to Accept the Loss of a Loved One

Why It Is So Hard For Us to Accept the Loss of a Loved One

Having a loved one die is like becoming a part of a club you never wanted to join. This is especially the case if the death is untimely, such as a young child passing, or the accidental death of a spouse. You may feel labeled by your loss and that the burden of this loss on your life is one that you will never overcome. Acceptance of a loved one’s death is possible, however it will also forever change you as a person. Your ability to process the death and the subsequent stages of grief will get you to acceptance. Acceptance of death does not mean you are left unscathed. Death of a loved one will change you forever, but how you deal with the grieving process will determine your acceptance and ability to move forward in life.

The real problem is that most people in the midst of their sorrow can’t imagine accepting the loss of their loved one. To do so would inadvertently mean that the person wasn’t that meaningful or that they aren’t worth the pain and sorrow. A good article on grief by Marty Tousley [1]. These steps are denial/ isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. People do not always go through these steps in the exact order. In some cases people may actually skip some of the steps.

However, these five steps are generally what most people immersed in grief experience. These stages have been studied by researchers and have been shown to be a commonly experienced across all the population, regardless of culture, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, etc. Understanding these stages can help an individual who is grieving, as they can recognize that their emotions are legitimate and commonly experienced by others who experience grief.

Professor Allan Kellehear wrote the the forward in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s well known book “On Death and Dying”.[2] This is the book in which she lays out the stages of the grieving process. The Professor noted the following in his forward regarding the flexibility allowed within these stages of grief:

“These stages are merely a set of categories artificially isolated and separately described so that the author can discuss each of these experiences more clearly and simply. The careful reader will note Kübler-Ross’s own repeated warnings that many of these “stages” overlap, occur together, or even that some reactions are missed altogether.”

The useful visual (below) of the Kubler-Ross five stages of grief was found at www.slideshare.net.[3] This is a general guideline and description of the stages, but once again, they can be experienced in a different order and/or stages in the process skipped altogether. These are a generalization of the grieving process, so you can recognize these emotions in yourself when you are grieving.

    Acceptance is the last, but not least stage.

    The crux of acceptance is the assumption that this means the person experiencing the grief is now healed, they are once again whole, and that the feelings of loss will be gone forever. That simply is not how grief and acceptance work.

    Acceptance involves the recognition that your life and your soul are somehow in some way changed forever because of the loss of your loved one. You will never return to that person you were before the loss. You are changed. For most people, the change is not good and it is not bad. The change just means you are different now that your loved one is no longer with you. They are with you in spirit and in your thoughts and mind, but physically they can’t be with you any longer.

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    The Funeral Resources Website speaks to the topic of acceptance and how it is a time when the individual realizes they are not the same person they were before.[4] Acceptance is to be oneself in your new life, a changed you, because your loved one is no longer present physically in your life.

    Acceptance should not be confused with healing or recovering from the loss, since that would put an enormous amount of pressure on people experiencing grief. Acceptance is really the beginning of the real healing process. It is the point where recovery becomes about the person left behind, and not about the person being mourned.

    Embrace the process.

    The grieving process is not easy. It’s not a smooth path either. More often than not, it is bumpy, uncomfortable, and a miserable blip in your time on this planet. But that is exactly what it is, a blip. It is not a permanent phase, even though it may feel permanent at that moment. You may be in the depression stage where you feel extreme sadness and loss. This feeling can be so overwhelming you wonder if you will ever experience happiness or joy again. You can, and you will, if you allow yourself to move one step in front of the other. To continue to live and allow yourself to process your emotions and feelings. If you don’t, you can get stuck in a phase of grief or it can come back to deliver its wrath and compounded emotions at a later time. It is always better to deal with the emotions and feelings as they naturally come through the processing of grief. Embrace your blip in time and acknowledge these emotions and steps of grief as you go through them. Author Luminita Saviuc in her article “7 Ways to Deal with the Death of a Loved One” discussed the grieving process and eloquently stated:[5]

    “Feel the pain, embrace it, live it and when you’re ready, know that it’s okay to let go of it for the healing process can’t be complete until you learn to let go. Let go in order to be happy once again.”

    Information is power.

    To embrace the process it is helpful to understand the process. The stages of grief are not a one size fits all. Everyone experiences grief in a unique fashion, as each human being is unique. However, the stages or steps in the grieving process provide some generalization about how most of the population on the planet experiences grief. There can be ups and downs in these steps, there can be repeating of steps, and in some cases steps are skipped altogether. Understanding all of these things and allowing yourself to process each stage as your emotional makeup allows is important.

    Other factors such as emotional support and professional help are also important, especially when a person is stuck within a stage of grieving or is otherwise repressing emotions to try to suppress the process of grief.

    Get emotional support.

    You are not an island in this world. Everyone is connected to other people and everyone needs those connections, especially when you are grieving. There are times in the grieving process that you will want to be left alone. Jinna Yang in her article “10 Things I Learned While Dealing With the Death of a Loved One”, eloquently described her process of grieving the loss of her Father, which literally took her years.[6] There were times she wanted to be left alone, yet other times that a friend was exactly what she needed for emotional support to get her through that time of grief. Everyone needs emotional support. However, levels of emotional support required for one person are not the same for another, even if the situation or circumstances are similar. We all grieve and process our emotions differently. However, emotional support is proven beneficial to an individual during times of grief. If you are experiencing grief, be open to the support and comfort provided by others. Allow yourself an openness so that others can be of emotional support to you.

    Seek counseling and guidance.

    Grief counseling, also know as bereavement counseling is immensely helpful to anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one. The sooner the therapy is sought after the loss, the more beneficial that therapy can be in assisting with the immediate grieving process.

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    The Psychology Today Website has a search tool for you to locate a grief therapist in your area.[7] Their search tool includes counselors, therapist, psychologist, and psychiatrists. Use your zip code to search and you can also narrow your search by insurance carriers that the providers accept. Support groups are also available through this search tool on the Psychology Today Website. Try one method of therapy and if it isn’t a good fit then try another, as therapy is not a one size fits all remediation.

    Reference

    [1] Open to Hope: Can We Ever ‘Accept’ Death of a Loved One” discussed acceptance and so wisely states the following to mourners:

    “You are not alone in feeling “a huge aversion to any thought of moving on, healing, closure, acceptance, acknowledgement, etc.” Most of us mourners have trouble with words like “acceptance,” because in truth the death of our loved ones will never, ever be “acceptable” to us”.

    To be in the midst of mourning the loss of a loved one, it is most unfathomable to imagine “accepting” the death. Acceptance isn’t in the realm of a current mourner’s feelings or even desired emotions. They need to process their pain and grief and then the subsequent acceptance will come in due time, as they process through the stages of grief.

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    The Stages of Grief

    There are five primary stages of grief. Psych Central describes the widely accepted theory of grief processing, which includes five steps or stages ((Psych Central: The 5 Stages of Grief & Loss

    [2] Elizabeth Kübler-Ross Foundation: On Death and Dying
    [3] SlideShare: Kubler Ross Grief Cycle
    [4] Funeral Resources Website: The Five Stages of Grief
    [5] Purpose Fairy: 7 Ways to Deal With the Death of a Loved One
    [6] Huffington Post: 10 Things I Learned While Dealing With the Death of a Loved One
    [7] Psychology Today: Find a Grief Therapist

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    Dr. Magdalena Battles

    A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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    Last Updated on March 17, 2020

    4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting

    4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting

    Are you bored at work right now?

    Sitting at your desk, wishing you could be anywhere other than here, doing anything else…?

    You’re not alone.

    Even when you have a job you love, it’s easy to get bored. And if your job isn’t something you’re passionate about, it’s even easier for boredom to creep in.

    Did you know it’s actually possible to make any job more interesting?

    That’s right.

    Whether it’s data entry or shelf stacking, even the most mind-numbing of jobs can be made more fun.

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    Understanding the science behind boredom is the first step to beating it.

    Read on to learn the truth about boredom, and what you can do to stop feeling bored at work for good.

    VIDEO SUMMARY

    I’m bored – as you’re watching the same film over and over again, even though it’s your favorite one

    When you experience something new, your brain releases opioids – chemicals which make you feel good. [1]

    It’s the feeling you might get when you taste a new food for the first time, watch a cool new film, or meet a new person.

    However, the next time you have the same experience, the brain processes it in a different way, without releasing so many feel-good chemicals.

    That’s why you won’t get the same thrill when you eat that delicious meal for the tenth time, rewatch that film again, or spend time with the same friend.

    So, in a nutshell, we get bored when we aren’t having any new experiences.

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    Now, new experiences don’t have to be huge life changes – they could be as simple as taking a different route to work, or picking a different sandwich shop for lunch.

    We’re going to apply this theory to your boring job.

    Keep reading find out how to make subtle changes to the way you work to defeat boredom and have more fun.

    Your work can be much more interesting if you learn these little tricks.

    Ready to learn how to stop feeling so bored at work?

    We’ve listed some simple suggestions below – you can start implementing these right now.

    Let’s do this.

    Make routine tasks more interesting by adding something new

    Sometimes one new element is all it takes to turn routine tasks from dull to interesting.

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    Maybe there’s a long drive you have to make every single week. You get so bored, going the same old route to make the same old deliveries.

    Why not make it a routine to create a playlist of new music each Sunday, to listen to on your boring drive during the week?

    Just like that, something you dread can be turned into the highlight of your day.

    For other routine tasks, you could try setting a timer and trying to beat your record, moving to a new location to complete the task, or trying out a new technique for getting the work done – you might even improve your productivity, too.

    Combine repetitive tasks to get them out of the way

    Certain tasks are difficult to make interesting, no matter how hard you try.

    Get these yawn-inducing chores out of the way ASAP by combining them into one quick, focused batch.

    For example, if you hate listening to meeting recordings, and dislike tidying your desk, do them both at the same time. You’ll halve the time you spend bored out of your mind, and can move onto more interesting tasks as soon as you’re done.

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    Break large tasks into small pieces and plan breaks between them

    Feeling overwhelmed can lead you to procrastinate and get bored. Try breaking up large tasks into lots of small pieces to keep things manageable and fun.

    Try breaking up a 10,000 word report into 1000-word sections. Reward yourself at the end of each section, and you’ll get 10 mini mood boosts, instead of just one at the end.

    You can also plan short breaks between each section, which will help to prevent boredom and keep you focused.

    Give yourself regular rewards, it can be anything that makes you feel good

    Make sure you reward yourself for achievements, even if they feel small.

    Rewards could include:

    • Eating your favourite snack.
    • Taking a walk in a natural area.
    • Spending a few minutes on a fun online game.
    • Buying yourself a small treat.
    • Visiting a new place.
    • Spending time on a favourite hobby.

    Your brain will come to associate work with fun rewards, and you’ll soon feel less bored and more motivated.

    Boredom doesn’t have to be a fact of life.

    Make your working life feel a thousand times more fun by following the simple tips above.

    Reference

    [1] Psychology Today: Why People Get Bored

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