Handling the Grief with Advanced Illnesses

When it comes to the passing of someone we cared for, the grieving process can be an overwhelming amount of emotions – anger, sadness, frustration, fear, etc. When we realize either for ourselves or for the one’s we care about that the end of life is approaching, it is easier to want to avoid these feelings rather than confronting them. An article by Psychology Today states, “Our coping mechanisms, cultural norms, support system as well as the circumstances of the death and our relationship with the deceased person may all play a role in how we react to a significant loss.”

For some people these emotions can help them come to a better understanding with the “good” that can come from losing someone, an example being the loss of someone who had been suffering intensely or for quite some time. It can bring a person some relief to know their loved one is no longer suffering. It can also bring an individual to a greater appreciation for the things around them that they wouldn’t have noticed before, whether that be the people in their life or things they haven’t noticed to appreciate before. Life is short, and it is in our nature to look forward to better times ahead. “Confronting death need not result in despair that strips away all purpose in life. On the contrary, it can be an awakening experience to a fuller life,” said Irvin D. Yalom.

Grieving a loved one is very difficult and losing someone so important to you can cause some negative affects to an individual’s state of mind. Some can grow into an anger of losing someone too soon, especially to an advanced illness. They can begin questioning of “Why do bad things happen to good people?.” In Psychology Today they have shared a finding made by psychologist John Bowlby that “Neurophysiological processes that produce changes in our behavior and cognition can be prolonged or amplified in the face of complicated or unresolved grief. The symptoms that arise during complicated grief reactions can be so severe that they may even resemble those experienced with major depressive disorder (MDD), anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” Confronting these emotions and receiving help from a professional grief counselor or therapist is highly suggested when trying to help someone with unresolved and complicated grief. There’s a natural reaction to want to help ease someone’s pain. Grieving is not black and white, and everyone grieves differently. It’s the matter of fact of working with an individual in their own way to try to bring them as much comfort as one can get when it comes to bereavement.

Helpful links:

Grief is a complicated and long term process that doesn’t have a simple solution. Become a member of The American Academy of Bereavement today to find more resources on grief and its many facets.

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