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29 Mar

Grief in the wake of missing Malaysian jet flight 370 and the Oso, Washington mudslide tragedy

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Given the mysterious loss of the Malaysian plane, flight 370 and the disaster of the Oso, Washington mudslide, grief appears to be multifold for the countless survivors of both of these incidences.  With all of the grief work that I have done and will do with clients, I have found that we as humans are not very good at experiencing sadness.

Most people who are grieving don't know that it is appropriate as well as okay to experience a certain amount of sadness when it comes to the loss of a loved one.  The reality is it doesn't even have to be just the loss of a loved one that allows for grief to come into our lives.  The loss of a dream such as a marriage or a job or a relationship, giving up an addiction, infertility, being diagnosed with a disease or chronic illness, as well as disasters such as the missing plane and mudslide, can and do, bring on grief and sadness.

Most people are not even sure what grief is.  Kubler-Ross, one of the most prominent psychiatrists to research death and dying found that grief was made up of several stages: shock, denial, anger bargaining, depression and acceptance.  One should realize while this may well be a process, it isn't necessarily a time sensitive one.  Each stage can last for days, weeks, or many months; with the whole process of questionable length.  It is even possible to jump from one stage to another stage or even back track to an old stage. I had a former grieving client who used to ask me periodically which stage I thought she was in that day.  Of course, I would ask her which stage she thought she might be experiencing.

I explain to my clients that grief work is similar to the waves on the ocean - just when you think one sad feeling is gone another one will wash up into our "feeling brain" and hit you and almost knock you over like a wave washing ashore.  You might ask yourself, "Wow! Where did that feeling (wave) come from?" Most people think they can and many do work through these stages without professional help.  Most people think if the sadness lasts too long then they must be depressed and must need medication.  What most people don't understand is that grief is a process, one that we must work through, and short cuts like ignoring the grief work through denial or medication can prolong the process.

A grief therapist will usually have you talk about what has happened in your life to bring about this sadness.  Sharing your feelings with others through talking, writing or artwork can help you express your sadness.  The basics of eating well, sleeping enough hours each night and regular exercise will contribute to a strong body so that you might work through the sadness and stages of grief.  Of course, seeking medication from a reliable doctor is always an option too.

If your grief seems to be too debilitating and you are not able to work, play, associate with others such as family or friends, then you might want to seek the help of a professionally trained therapist.  Go to www.therapistlocator.net to find a therapist close to your home who can help you deal with your loss.