Who is at the highest risk for having a difficult time with the loss of a loved one?
People who may have trouble dealing with grief are those who already have depression or other psychological disorders, those with poor social support, and/or those with other major stressors at the same time. People who lose a loved one unexpectedly or were unprepared often have much more difficulty dealing with the loss. If a person was highly dependent on the relationship with the person who is gone, dealing with the loss will often be much harder. Those who have poor social support or history of abuse or neglect themselves will often have prolonged or abnormal grief reactions. And one of the most difficult losses to deal with is the loss of a child. As in the case of Jamie’s grandmother, this can cause an extraordinarily long grieving process.
So what is there to do? Sometimes it helps to meet with people who have experienced the pain of loss and understand how a person can have trouble getting out of bed in the morning — and moving on is not even in the realm of possibilities.
After the loss of a child, a mother named Jessica said that she needed the following from her family and friends:
I need to say her name without bringing everyone to tears.
I need her life to be included in the count of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
I need kindness on birthdays and understanding on holidays.
I need to stay in bed and a reason to get out of it.
I need to talk endlessly and to let the phone ring.
I need an extra hug and respect for my space.
I need someone to ask how I'm doing and want to know the real answer.
I need careful announcements of pregnancies, baby showers and births; mine did not turn out as I hoped.
I need a "handle with care" sticker for my heart, my emotions have been fragile since the day I said goodbye.
I need patience and reminders for my mind, part of it will always be somewhere else.
I need forgiveness for not being the friend, sister, daughter and wife I used to be.
But more than anything I need you.
Your support, your friendship, your understanding.
For anyone needing help managing day-to-day living with grief, there are some options available locally. South Coast Hospice holds regular meetings at the Family Resource Center. If someone is interested in joining the group, please call Mary at 541-269-2986.
If you believe that you are having an extraordinarily difficult time dealing with a loss, contact your doctor or primary care provider. They will often have access to resources, may put you in touch with a counselor, or may recommend medication. For more information on grief, go to psychcentral.com and type in “grief” or “bereavement.”
“All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them,” said the writer Isak Dinesen.
Patrick O’Malley responds: “When loss is a story, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no pressure to move on. There is no shame in intensity or duration. Sadness, regret, confusion, yearning and all the experiences of grief become part of the narrative of love for the one who died.”