Grief & Loss Information

Understanding Grief and Loss in Times of War and Disaster


There are many different kinds of losses we can experience in our lives. Indeed, loss in human beings has its beginnings in the birth process that separates the infant from the comfort and security of the mother's womb into a world where survival is conditional and predicated on individual responsibility. The presumable final loss is the end of the human life cycle caused by death. There are many losses in between those polarities that relate to the developmental and aging process in each life. All of these losses are expectable losses and our bereavement and mourning of these losses are colored by their expectability

Losses can be understood and processed more effectively when they are placed in a meaningful theoretical framework. Here are some examples:

1. Normal (expected) losses versus abnormal (unexpected) losses.

2. Universal losses versus special losses.

3. Chronic losses versus acute losses.

4. Mild losses versus severe losses.

5. Replaceable losses versus irreplaceable losses.

Unexpected losses, by definition cannot be anticipated or prepared for, and therefore impact people with a "rapid" challenge. Adjustment to an unexpected loss is difficult because of the suddenness of the demand to the person's psychic and emotional economy. Unexpected losses can be acute or chronic. A diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease is unexpected, but it is a chronic loss that may feature many years of gradual decline for the patient and their loved ones for adjustment. Sudden death of a loved one through war, and natural disasters like the recent Tsunami are quintessential examples of acute unexpected losses, and place upon survivors the most severe adaptational demands.

Losses are considered to have more impact on people when they are irreplaceable, which means that they cannot be somewhat "undone." Loss of your car through theft may indeed be potentially replaceable - obviously, the loss of a loved one is not.

Therefore, understanding grief and loss in war and disaster means realizing that these are some of the most terrible losses experienced because they are unexpected, "special", acute, severe, and irreplaceable. The symptoms of these losses can be understood just as much as a post -traumatic stress disorder, as they are a part of bereavement.

THE SYMPTOMS OF TRAUMATIC LOSS-

Understanding and bearing the grieving process of traumatic loss is easier when you are aware of the symptoms that will be experienced. Traumatic loss can call forth:

1. Shock

2. Disorientation

3. Severe preoccupation

4. Hysteria

5. Acute suicidal feelings

6. Inability to function

7. Flashbacks

8. Amnesia

9. Severe phobic reactions

10. Startle reactions

11. Motor restlessness

12. Anxiety and Panic

These are certainly in contrast to the crying, sadness, preoccupation, anhedonia, and sleep disorders found with milder, more expectable losses.

STAGES OF GRIEF IN MILD AND TRAUMATIC LOSS

Denial. One can expect that traumatic losses will trigger some level of denial. Nature has provided people with the neuropsychological equipment to provide themselves with soothing body-based opiates that accompany denial and shock. This creates a stop-action, freezeframe period to buy the time involved to readjust.

Preoccupation with the Loss. Opening up to that which has been lost will involve various degrees of preoccupation with the loss itself. Many clinicians believe it is not the passage of time that heals but the rearrangement of ideas that are involved in the passage of time. Further they feel that the affect of sadness favor the slowing of mental processes which bring about more reorganization of ideas.

Griefwork or losswork is painful. It requires energy and expends energy. The bearing of emotional pain, physical symptoms, and the shifting of previous habits or thinking which now demand reorganization, frequently cause personal exhaustion and the normal challenges of life may be too great at this time.

Another aspect of the preoccupation stage of loss represents what Kubler-Ross referred to as "bargaining". In part, This term describes moments and sequences of the mental reorganization process, where the wish to return to the pre-loss stage is felt or expressed. The broad sweep of optimal adjustment will hopefully dictate that this interlude will become a simple double-check which points out that, in fact, what is lost is lost and will stay that way, and the mourning process proceeds.

The Tree of Loss. People undergoing loss may experience the return of previous losses, both resolved and unresolved. Clinicians are familiar with this phenomenon and remain aware that this presents an opportunity for additional resolutions. Each person has their own special tree of loss, which is based on the losses they experienced in their life from birth up until the present moment.

Completeness of the Mourning Process. How well the person proceeds from the preoccupation stage to the withdrawal of energy from the loss stage depends on how completely the griefwork has been done. Essential to this completeness are the confronting of painful feelings, dealing with unfinished business and guilt resolutions.

People may require some help to tie up their loose ends (unfinished business) from another human being or a trained professional when it seems they are unable to "move on". This may involve revisitations of old emotional scenarios and events, which keep the person stuck in the past.

The presence of guilt (the personal belief that one has done something bad as regards to their value system) is sure to retard the resolution of loss. Again, it may be necessary to seek professional help when the trauma of the loss or guilt is severe.

Withdrawal of Energy and Acceptance. When all of the above has occurred, the grieving person will slowly withdraw the old emotional investment in that which was lost (decathexis). This may initiate a reworking of the previous stages in miniature, with an ultimate arrival some time in the future of acceptance of the loss, a sure sign that resolution and "moving on" has occurred.

Reinvestment of Energy. The "final" stage of this process, reinvestment of emotional energy may take a very long time to reach after the previous stages. Many people that have experienced a traumatic loss may never reinvest their emotional energy out of a fear of further loss or because they remain somewhat emotionally disorganized. If the previous stages have been poorly resolved, the chances of optimal reinvestment may be slim to none.

Many people remain stuck in a pre-reinvestment state, haunting the interpersonal world, but never getting truly involved: they are like ghosts too frightened to move on. Other people remain "stuck" when they idealize the traumatic loss of their loved one and subsist on the bittersweet fruit of martyrdom.

Others who are more fortunate realize that loss is inevitable and decide that they are too unwilling to settle for a life crippled by fear of further loss. These people reinvest their emotional energy and take their chances in lives hopefully enriched by a deeper understanding of the many dimensions of loss.

Shermin Davis helped edit this article. She is private practice in Miami, Florida and can be reached at Srdavis@prodigy.net

Jan S. Maizler is a veteran therapist and writer practicing in Miami. He has authored over 100 articles and 7 books. He can be reached at http://www.relationshiphandbook.com, and http://www.transformationhandbook.com


MORE RESOURCES:
Self Improvement:Grief Loss Articles from EzineArticles.com
02/21/2018 03:51 PM
A Heal My Grief & Loss List - 4 How Questions Answered
At all times, embracing all available social media, technology, internet, and all other beneficial and essential resource solutions for overcoming despair, grief and loss should be your highest priority. To stop grieving, start healing grief and sorrow, finding hope and joy is vital to experiencing lasting peace and happiness. Practical solutions are absolutely necessary for coping with immediate feelings of sorrow, grief reconciliation and loss, as well as the difficult emotions that can persist over time. Essential answers are a must-have companion as you courageously confront and process your deep emotional feelings, in your efforts to progress through your grief into peace and healing.
02/20/2018 02:36 PM
Surrender to Ether
As an individual that has dealt with the loss of a loved one, I truly empathize with the stages of grief and loss. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them. This process can take several years to a lifetime to work through.
02/18/2018 10:40 AM
A Gentle Landing When Life Is Harsh
Have you ever noticed how easy it seems to give up on life; to make that key decision of action to stop going on? I felt it yesterday several times, even amongst friends and loved ones; that loneliness of soul that had lost all sense of hope in the seconds before it.
02/13/2018 03:37 PM
The Emotional Stages of Loss and Grief
Loss and the grief that often follows is an inevitable part of life. Knowing what to expect can go a long way in helping you through these difficult times.
02/13/2018 09:05 AM
Cherish, Don't Lament, Those TEARS of Yours
IT happened three days in a row, and I'm not afraid to say, I am so glad. I cried. Wept healing tears. Not really for my own healing, yet perhaps also my own.
02/04/2018 09:06 AM
Gratitude In the Valley of Grief
IMPOSSIBLE concepts are not foreign in the Kingdom of God, but of course impossibilities in a worldly context are possibilities where God reigns. Gratitude in the time of grief, for instance, is possible as a concept in the Kingdom of God, but the world generally thinks that's absurd.
01/31/2018 09:16 AM
Death Is Inevitable
"Death smiles at us, all a man can do is smile back". Death is very dreadful and unjustifiable event. It is the only real event which has a 100 % probability of occurrence.
01/25/2018 03:44 PM
Essential Grief Relief and Healing Questions
Having experienced horrendous grief and loss have you asked: How do I break through my personal grief and loss obstacles? How can I stand against grief and reconcile my sorrow and loss? How do I eliminate my personal grief longevity and permanency? Can I reject grief without hope, happiness, and healing efforts? How can I manifest my dreams, and live the best life possible? What steps can I take to renew myself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever?
01/23/2018 04:00 PM
A Guide To Heal Sorrow & Loss
A rock-solid pathway to reconcile your grieving heart and emotions is a must-have, much-needed guide. Early-on, in your grief experience you may not be aware that the grief healing guide you need is found within your own empowerment. After a grief happening in your life you can't go back to exactly how you were. It is necessary for you to reset and renew your new life. Begin seeking then embracing your grief healing guide. It must include a rock-solid pathway to reconcile your grieving heart and emotions.
01/22/2018 08:07 AM
A Love Letter From God If You Are Struggling
THIS is not an endless string of Bible verses, nor is it something soppy and romantic. But it is what I believe what God has laid on my heart, consistent with the character of God.
01/21/2018 10:07 AM
Grief and Loss Prepare You for Healing and Joy
Understanding the complexities of your grief is essential as you travel along your grief rehabilitation journey. Your personal grief reconciliation is best accomplished as you gain insight and understanding about the complexity of your personal sorrow. You should feel no shame in admitting your grief. There is no disgrace in not fully understand the complexity of your grief. Understand that grief and loss prepare you for future joy. Grief healing actions can shake the grieving leaves from the bough of your heart. New hopeful leaves of peace and anticipation can grow in their place. Your grief relief activities will pull up sorrowful roots so that strong new reconciliation roots can grow in their place. Don't be disheartened you can stop grieving and start healing. Your grief and loss can prepare you for healing and Joy.
01/15/2018 03:54 PM
The 3-Minute Test You Spend Your Whole Life Preparing For
NEVER do we go through our formative years thinking any of it's a preparation, but there does come a time when it's all tested. One of those pivotal tests for me was between 2300hrs and 2303hrs on October 30, 2014 - meeting my stillborn son.
01/12/2018 03:48 PM
Loss Is Love in All Its Fullness
GRIEF at a loved one's passing or the loss of anything significant is the full payment for the love we had for that person or the hopes we had for that dream. That might feel like a slap across the face, but when loss comes it throws us so far we realise just how much we must have loved, because what we cannot stop loving or needing is irretrievably gone.
01/11/2018 04:17 PM
How Long Does Grief Last For?
THIS quote on grief I'll never forget: "I believe it takes a full three years to get through loss." (Pastor Craig Vernall, April 2017) The quote astounded me because it seemingly broke with traditional grief wisdom that pegs it as a two-to-twelve-month acute phase process, and something we never truly overcome, but learn to accept.
01/10/2018 03:32 PM
Faith in Grief, at Best Victorious, at Worst an Aspiration
THROUGH it all, through it all, my eyes are on you (Jesus), and it is well. The adapted strains of Horatio Spafford's classic hymn communicate, as he did, the scandalous reality of an overcoming hope in the deepest grief, a psychological phenomenon setting faith apart as priceless in our darkest hour.
01/08/2018 08:19 AM
When Will This Desert Drudgery End? Will I Ever Reach the Promised Land?
EVER had a conversation with a person trying to encourage you and left more discouraged than ever? I've been on both sides of that kind of interaction.
01/05/2018 04:10 PM
Just Swimming Around
I grew up in a fairy-tale world and life was good. It wasn't until the death of my son by suicide challenged me more than I ever believed possible. I was forced to face the realities of a changed world and my illusion was shattered. Finding the strength after significant loss required changing my philosophy, exploring options, and raw determination before the sun could shine again.
01/05/2018 04:08 PM
Has God Got a Purpose for Me In My Grief?
ACCEPTING that everyone grieves differently, we can still agree that the pain is the same awful reality for everyone. Why does grief hurt so much?
01/04/2018 04:20 PM
Lament Fit for a King, David's Way to Strength in Weakness
It is necessary to give over (admit and accept) our human weakness to gain divine strength. Put another way, the presence of human weakness is essential to receive the divine strength of God's Presence.
01/03/2018 02:41 PM
No, This Is Not Happening To Me
This is a story about my much anticipated birthday trip. Unfortunately. it did not happen as planned. However, I was able to learn a valuable lesson.
01/02/2018 08:27 AM
Dispelling The Myth That It Just Takes Time
When my best friend, my hero, my Dad died, I thought that I was going to die too. In a way, I did die. My broken heart and my longing to see and talk to him was more than I could bear.
12/27/2017 03:44 PM
You Grieve How You Grieve
WHEN we lost Nathanael I'm sure there were some, perhaps many, who doubted the grief journey we were on. Maybe we grieved too well for some people. All I know is that our grief journey was normal and appropriate and only what it could be for us.
12/23/2017 10:32 AM
My Worst Christmas Ever and How God Redeemed It
2004 was a weirdly hope-filled, growing, expanding year for me in the most part, but there were still elements of hangover from the previous year. Overall, the year was a solid eight-out-of-ten. It was the year I heard God call me out of secular-life-for-me into ministry-for-Him. It was also a year where I grew so much as a father into the new life my family was thrust into.
12/22/2017 02:44 PM
5 Things to Hate About Christmas (and Any Other Celebration)
THINK of anytime in the experience of life as a celebration, and there's another side. The experience of that time for those suffering grief.
12/17/2017 09:42 AM
How God Uses Grief to Teach Us Hope
In grief there is unprecedented and unparalleled poverty of spirit. Sadness like no other. A place of soul where all is foreign. Where all anchors fail and where trust is tested and torn. Sight of hope has vanished; felt realities of hope are vanquished.
12/12/2017 03:39 PM
Grieving Exchanges Honesty for Healing
DO it now or do it later, either way the work of grieving just must be done. That's what I've heard so many times.
12/11/2017 08:02 AM
10 Things Your Counsellor Wants to Say to You But Can't
ACTS of therapy require great courage - in both the giving and receiving of counsel. Going to counselling could be about as enjoyable as going to the dentist. The point is made, however, that when either are needed only great detriment occurs when we put it off.
12/08/2017 04:04 PM
An Inextinguishable Hope
DESPAIR is such an unenviable condition, having been there, none of us want to return. Yet, life experience attests to a fact; if we fell to the pit of an abyss once, it won't be the only time.
12/08/2017 09:17 AM
What Do I Do When Grief Sneaks Up to Confront and Shock Me?
EYE OPENERS in life come in pleasant and painful extremes. And grief is an eye opener of the most painful variety. A nemesis that seems to sneak up from nowhere at times, to take away our peace, our joy, our hope, our mind, to rob our heart of the security we so desperately rely on.
12/08/2017 09:16 AM
The Character of All-Abiding Sorrow in Grief
ONLY 24-hours ago my family learned we had lost a dear member - my Uncle. He was a man full of humour no matter how hard life was. There is so much about him that could be written. A small article like this cannot do justice to his memory.
12/05/2017 03:45 PM
Six Ways To Beat The Holiday Blues
Losing a loved one can make getting through the holidays difficult. Here are six ways to cope with stress and overcome the holiday blues.
12/02/2017 12:12 PM
Writhing Through the Pain of Hurt
THIS cannot be an article about hope - where hurts sting through tear-swollen eyes, a mind agonizing, a heart defeated - at least not a flippant hope. It's okay. It's not okay that your heart is hurting. But it is okay that you cannot hope right now. It is okay that you cannot face thought of present, let alone the future.
11/27/2017 08:17 AM
Where Is the Hope When All Is Pain?
Pain forces us toward or away from hope, and the latter only because we gave up hope of finding it. The former is pain's objective - to locate hope and reconcile who we are amid pain, and who we are to be post pain.
11/16/2017 04:05 PM
The Company of God's Presence in the Numb Night of Grief
SOMETHING is common in the experience of those who have been broken by a pain that rips their lives to shreds. God's Presence.
11/16/2017 08:14 AM
The Grief Integral to Full Faith Allegiance in Christ
FALSE truths and half-faiths there are plenty of in the Christian walk; both as far as dogmas and lived-out varieties are concerned. John Stott was right when he said that heresy is the over-emphasis on some truth without allowing other truths to qualify and balance it. (And this article will no doubt feature an imperfect mix of truth!)
11/09/2017 04:04 PM
Do You Ever Ask, Did It Really Happen?
BUZZ goes the phone, and as I check for the message it's a friend. He reminds me of the significance of a date (tomorrow) I already know - yet, suddenly, God has me go in on a journey. He shows me something surreal. It catches me by surprise.
11/09/2017 03:54 PM
He Who Made You Will Make a Way for You
IF you're battling today, to hold it together, or to take that next step, or maybe to simply halt that slide backwards, consider this. Whatever happens, whether you succeed or fail, you're dearly loved.
11/06/2017 07:56 AM
On the Other Side of Acceptance
REALITY is only a threat when we cannot live in harmony with the truth. Yet reality is a real issue for every single one of us. It's a phenomenon that must be mastered if we're to live the life every human being is purposed to live. Comparatively few ever do. Yet it's the opportunity God freely gives each one of us.
11/05/2017 08:59 AM
God Is for You and With You in Your Trial
UNDER spiritual attack, one of the first things we forget is that God is for us. Our Lord is present and powerful in all circumstances, especially when we're weak, and that's because we're more likely to pray and to lean not in our own understanding when we're being overpowered.
11/04/2017 10:54 AM
Endurance Is Easier When We Accept Life Is a Test
NOBODY really likes the sound of that title, I know. But deeper consideration of this truth evokes the super-conquering hope Paul talked about in Romans 8:37.
11/01/2017 04:33 PM
How the Stages of Grief Manifested in Me
The stages of grief theory was of course posited by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (and David Kessler). It involves denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. The strength of the model is it highlights real stages we go through as we experience loss. One of its weaknesses is it's not linear - the stages tend to reoccur chaotically. But it's overall flow is true. Here are my observations of the grief I've experienced over the past three years:
10/26/2017 04:13 PM
Man of Sorrows for the Man and Woman in Pain
JESUS hung out with all the wrong types, because no ladder-climbing was done there. He sought out the lonely, broken heart, unlike His detractors who loved ladder-climbing.
10/25/2017 08:19 PM
The Gloves Come Off - A Look at the Transformation of Death
Grieving is so very individual. If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one I highly recommend that you seek professional or spiritual council. With help you may find that you are able to embrace the transformation of energy and use it to create something new for yourself.
10/24/2017 04:06 PM
Every Response to Loss Is Appropriate
As all grief is real, all responses are appropriate, commensurate with the pain we experience. It only grieves the spirit in us more when we're told we're doing grief wrong.
10/23/2017 08:06 AM
Why Grief Isn't Depression and One Thing You Can Do About It
HAVE you ever visited a psychotherapist once, never gone back, and realised it was the best hour you could have ever spent? I've had one of those experiences. And the older gentleman taught me the difference between depression (which I thought I had, but didn't) and grief (which I had). Sure, I was depressed, but...
10/20/2017 09:04 AM
On My & America's Collective Suffering and Loss
The world is collectively choosing to undergo experiences of loss and hurt. The veneer of "everything is okay" with America is eroding on an inner level as well as on the outer level we all see. Collectively, we have all decided we want something better than the old system.
10/19/2017 10:14 PM
What If I Made the Decision to Stop Suffering?
When a circumstance means your whole heart and soul to you, and when that circumstance changes for whatever reason, and when we feel like dying as a result, this is the emotional suffering I am speaking about. Can you relate?
10/19/2017 10:10 PM
I Wasn't Just Grieving The Loss Of My Father
Shortly after I had got to the point where I could contain my emotions, the healer that I was working with said it would be a good idea for me to see if I could cry when I'm by myself. The reason for this was that I hadn't been able to cry during the sessions that we had had.
10/15/2017 08:58 PM
One Thing They Never Tell You About Loss
THERE are so many dynamics and nuances and variables in loss. But one thing remains the same. Grief is a phenomenon that changes us irrevocably. And there is but one choice - to go in the direction of one of two destinations: to move into the new life beckoning or to stifle its flow.
10/10/2017 03:58 PM
Son, You Would've Been Turning 3 Soon
EXTINGUISHED now is the deep pain of our loss, yet what has replaced it is the precious void we share together as we remember our son. Often, we talk about how old he would be, and we particularly miss him not being the loyal little brother to our now four-year-old.


home | site map |