Friday, February 19, 2016

Complicated Grief: Reframing the Way We Think About Love and Loss

"Grief is both a universal experience and a unique one. Like the love that spawns it, grief is unique to each bereaved person.

P.J.’s family appear to be solidly grounded in a comforting belief system and enveloped in a supportive secular and spiritual community. They still seem able to envision a meaningful life.

But many bereaved people feel deeply confused, emotionally unsettled, and profoundly isolated in the acute aftermath of a loss. The isolation and confusion is intensified by our cultural aversion to conversation about loss and death and by uncertainties about what to expect in grief.

I believe that grief is neither a brief reaction to loss that can and should be quickly resolved, nor is it so completely unique that any form it takes should be welcomed and validated as suggested by the maxim that everyone grieves in their own way.

Scientists who study close relationships define them as providing comfort during times of trouble and encouragement during times of learning, taking risks, and performing. There is a lot of evidence that we are biologically predisposed to seek, form, and maintain such relationships and to adjust to their loss.

Grief is the response to loss but it is not one thing. It is different for different people and for the same person over time. Grief entails a changing array of thoughts feelings and behaviors evoked by the loss. Emotions often surge in ways that can feel unfamiliar, unpredictable, and confusing, As C.S. Lewis famously said, “No one ever told me grief felt so much like fear.” "

Complicated Grief: Reframing the Way We Think About Love and Loss - Pacific Standard

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