The TIME Approach to Grief Support (BOOK EXCERPT, PT 10)
The Book Stop Blog is featuring excerpts from The TIME Approach to Grief Support by Edmund Ng and WinePress Publishing.
We must not underestimate the destructive potential of the pain a grieving person is going through, especially when we have not experienced the loss of a loved one ourselves. Most people do not receive the support they need to overcome such pain, and they become trapped in their grief. Studies have shown that this pain later may surface as the underlying cause of serious physical and mental illnesses. Studies also have shown that a total absence of grief is not a good sign, and this may indicate the need for professional help (McKissock, 1992). Zisook, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, estimated that seventeen percent of all patients entering the psychiatric facilities in California had unresolved grief.
Depending on the extent one goes through the grieving process, “recovery can range from a complete return to the pre-existing state of health and well-being, to partial recovery, to improved growth and creativity or ... permanent damage, progressive decline and even death” (Simos, 1979). When personality, relational, circumstantial, or social factors hinder the satisfactory completion of the grieving process, especially in a case in which proper support is lacking, unresolved grief can turn chronic or pathological. This means the grief intensi- fies to the level where the person is overwhelmed or remains interminably in the state of grief, and the mourning process does not progress toward completion. In other words, the grief can be further prolonged, delayed, or exaggerated.
In Malaysia, where I live, there was a prominent former judge who shot himself to death three years after his wife had passed away. The coroner ruled that he took his own life due to masked depression caused by unresolved grief. His suicide shocked our nation.
In retrospect, we should not have been. At her death anniversary each year, the former judge would publish a full page of lovely poems about his late wife in the local newspapers. His personal friends were aware that he visited her grave almost on a daily basis. The warning signs of his unresolved and chronic grief were showing everywhere!
Yet in an entire nation, we either did not have the people who knew how to reach out to help someone like him or we just did not have people who cared. If only the GGP Outreach ministry had been in existence then, I would have visited him, and a good life would not have been wasted.
There are three lessons we can learn from his suicide. The first lesson is that unresolved grief can turn chronic and destructive without warning. The second is that grief is not a respecter of persons. A person with unresolved grief can be highly irrational, no matter how smart he or she is. The highly-respected judge had graduated with first-class honors in law from the University of London. Lastly, we can try hard to forget our grief through our busyness, but it will not go away. The grief-stricken “master of the intricacies of law,” as he was popularly known, was digging deep into his legal work until his moment of truth.
To Continue Reading
The first excerpt in the series:
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