The other day I had a discussion with someone about our mutual friend who had been an on-air personality and reporter both radio and television for all of his adult life. When he aged out and lost both positions he was devastated. Storm clouds moved in and he became very unhealthy very quickly and seemed to give up. I was so sad to think his loss of identity hit him like a category 5 hurricane. The discussion got me thinking about the myriad of reasons why people grieve, and how some folks might not recognize grief and therefore do not get the help needed to weather their personal storm.
I am a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. The founders of the Grief Recovery Methods define grief as “the conflicting feelings caused by the end or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” They cite a scale of stressors created by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, which details the 40+ life events that are most liable to create feelings of grief, and in turn, cause illness and other health-related problems. The founders of Grief Recovery Methods switched the purpose of identifying stress to grief and added a few of their own.
Side note: I cannot say it enough, the so-called Seven Stages of Grief, were not created for grievers. Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross came up with those stages when describing what she witnessed with patients who were dying. Her work with death and dying inspired the worldwide creation of thanatology courses in colleges and universities. She was at the forefront of the knowledge that dying patients should be treated with honesty, dignity and caring not stuck in the room at the far end of the hallway with the least amount of interaction with hospital staff. She started her work in the ’60s. Sadly my brother Bobby died exactly five years ago in 2014 and I watched in horror when he was moved into the last room on the right in the oncology unit. Nothing had changed. Ironically there was a huge banner out in front of this hospital proclaiming it the #3 hospital in the Nation for patient care. I was quite angry when I saw it. What a joke. (Full story for another time.)
Anyway, I hope this list gives you insight into your own feelings and emotions as well as those around you who might be grieving and don’t even know it. There is recovery from life’s powerful storms. But, you have to see it and seek help to navigate your way through it.
Shirley Enebrad is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist with 25 years of experience. For her many years of work with pediatric cancer patients and those grieving the loss of a loved one, she received the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service and the Angel of Hospice Award. She is the author of Six-Word Lessons on Coping with Grief and Six-Word Lessons for Surviving a Devastating Diagnosis.
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