The Process of Grief
This is a guest post by Richard Moyle from the Mesothelioma Cancer Center at Asbestos.com. Asbestos.com is committed to providing the latest, up-to-date information to our visitors in the hopes of spreading awareness about the dangers of asbestos cancer.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. This type of cancer is typically diagnosed in its later stages and is usually difficult to treat. This is because the cancer has an unusually long latency period and mesothelioma symptoms do not begin to show for at least 25 years after exposure. The typical life expectancy of someone diagnosed with mesothelioma is about one year after diagnosis.
Losing a loved one, whether it be a tragic accident or an illness, is one of the most difficult things to cope with and no two people deal with the loss of a loved one the same way. However, there is a general process that most people go through after the death of someone close to them.
British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst John Bowlby has presented a 4-step process
that looks at grief through the eyes of someone who wants to continue living even though their loved one has passed on. Bowlby clarifies that the stages of the grieving process can shift and overlap and remarks that ALL stages of the grief process may even take place at the same time and that the amount of time spent in each may be controlled by a huge number of factors including age, personality, and the conditions surrounding the death of the loved one.
The 4-step process is as follows:
• Shock and Numbness – Feelings of unreality and de-personalization (i.e. "This isn’t happening to me."), people in this stage practice "self-protective" behaviors, which makes them appear stoic but that is just a defense mechanism against pain.
• Yearning and Searching – Also known as "pining", the bereaved longs to be with the deceased. Some say they see or hear the deceased during this stage. The bereaved speculates how they will get along without their loved one. This is a long stage for many, but some pass through it rather quickly.
• Disorganization and Despair – Mourning sets in. The bereaved may experience deep depression or despair and feelings of bleakness. Some individuals require therapy during this time, especially when anguish hinders everyday activities or results in contemplation of suicide.
• Reorganization – The bereaved "assimilates" their loss. The person who has reached reorganization is now learning how to live life without their loved one. This stage may represent a redefinition of life for many individuals.
There is no set amount of time for each of the first three stages and anyone can get stuck in one for a long amount of time. This is not a problem as long as it does not interfere with things like the person’s job or personal relationships. If that point is reached, it is helpful for a friend to step in and assist the bereaved in seeking professional help.