We Don't Die - A Skeptic's Discovery of Life After Death
#1 International Bestsller by Sandra Champlain
Relationships suffer during grief
Over 100 years ago, grieving was not what it was today. Back then, many children grew up on farms, saw animals live and die as well as watched the death of their elders. The old or sick family members were cared for by family and the family took care of them during their final days. Even after death, it was the family's responsibility to wash and dress the body and have the "wake" at the house. Families worked together and stayed together during the grieving process. Death was normal, yes sad and painful, but a normal part of life. Grieving then was not nearly as torturous as it is today.
Today, we don't see much of death. We live our lives unconsciously thinking that "death" happens to other people. Our elders and sick die in hospitals and nursing homes. Its rare that we see a farm, let alone live on a farm and see the birth and death of animals. Death is kept quiet and away from society, for the most part. You have not been given any tools that our elders had for dealing with death and grief.
Then, without knowing "Death" hits your life. You get a phonecall that someone close to you has died and the shock and grief emotions are soon to follow. Or, you find out that someone you love has an illness and is going to die. You experience "Anticipatory Grief." You experience the same shock and grief emotions even though that person has not yet died. To make matters worse, you learn that you'll experience these emotions a second time, after the person has died.
Grief is a very hard journey on anyone. We need our friends and family to be there for us, to listen to us, to be a shoulder to cry on, to look to them for support. However, this can be a VERY HARD thing for family to do, because they are going through grief as well.
There is an astonishing number of divorces that take place after a death of a loved one. For instance, many spouses get divorced after a child dies. When a parent or grandparent dies, many children and grandchildren "fight" and as a result, never speak again. When one spouse has a life-threatening illness, such as cancer, very often the couple will get divorced, even though the person goes into remission and does not die.
"That will never happen to me and my family," you think. Well, sorry to say, there is not one family that is not touched with grief. Most families I spoke to said this very thing, "My family was so close, I would never have dreamed this would happen," or "My brother and I were so close, I cannot believe he got this greedy," or "My wife was always so loving, I cannot believe she is so cold to me."
A term that comes up often in conversations is "True Colors." Such as, someone's "true colors" coming out if they are selfish, angry, financially greedy or void of emotion...such as no longer being loving or compassionate. I ask you right now to consider, that people's "true colors" are the attributes and mannerisms that the person has had consistently, in life, not in this time of grief. Deep down, people are still those same loving, generous, kind, compassionate, fun to be with human beings, but when they experience grief...the body goes into shock and a new, temporary, set of emotions takes over.
That new set of emotions that might take over your husband or wife, that just lost a parent or child? You might be experiencing these emotions yourself and find it hard to relate to others, worse yet, you and the people closest to you are experiencing grief and, if not properly identified, you may "write of" or disassociate with someone permanently! We need people when we grieve. If the grieving process is properly understood, I hope for more people to have compassion with each other....no matter if its happening NOW or if something happened 20 years ago. Its never too late!
Please realize the symptoms of grief are an emotional response to the loss that has occurred. No matter how smart you are and how much you may have read about the subject, your body will still have to go through grief.
In addition to the emotions that you will experience during grief, (click here to view them), there are TWO big areas that cause communication breakdowns between people. Those areas are your perception and your memory.
When a death or a traumatic experience occurs (it could be a divorce or loss of a job), the body instinctively goes into "survival" mode. Mental symptoms of this survival mode:
Impairment of the short-term memory - Example: You may not remember conversations and activities as they really occurred - but think that you do and believe you are telling the truth
Diminished concentration and attention span
Distorted perception - Examples: You may get angry and cut a person out of your life because you heard a "tone" in the way they spoke to you. Or you may assign an incorrect meaning to something a person did. For instance, "Judy balanced the checkbook and she knows that's my responsibility, now I don't trust her anymore"
A tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life, and often a sense that everything is going wrong
Loss of interest in what was previously of great interest
Difficulty in dealing with responsibilities
Fear of going ‘crazy’
Difficulty making decisions
Inability to think about the future and make plans
Worrying about not achieving or not living up to usual standards
Worrying that you will never feel good again and will always feel the way you do now
Just worrying about everything
Please, please, please be gentle and compassionate with yourself and others during grief. Unless you are in someone else's shoes, you don't know how difficult of a time it is. Do your best to listen, don't make them wrong for their behavior and love them. Thankfully, with mutual respect and patience, relationships can withstand and even sometimes grow stronger due to grief.
Grief and Relationships Grief can take a toll on relationships because it is primarily an individual experience. Partners can try to understand someone else's grief but they can never experience it or take on the burden themselves. Grief can have a number of affects on relationships. Partners may grow closer as they need each for support or realize that they would like to spend more time together. However, partners may also grow apart if the grieving individual retreats into him or herself, his or her partner loses patience with grief or a combination. Intimate relationships may also experience a slow period if the grieving individual does not feel like becoming physically close to others. Finally, some relationships may not experience any changes if grief is not intense, if it is fleeting or if partners are able to give and receive support in an open and “efficient” manner.
Supporting Others Through Grief Perhaps the greatest mistake someone attempting to comfort or console another can make is to insist on how the other must be feeling. Instead, friends and relatives of the bereaved should be patient with whatever emotions the individual may be feeling without deciding whether these emotions are “right” or “appropriate”. Talking about how each person is feeling often helps everyone stay on the same page and understand more about what others are going through, and scheduling activities that the bereaved enjoys may help him or her to experience positive emotions. If more than one person is experience grief at the same time, it may be that allowing each to experience their own grief without feeling that they must make the other feel better helps all involved. However, throughout grief, physical affection, tokens of love and affection, and reminders that others will always be there for the bereaved will likely always be appreciated.
Grief is often a solitary, unique experience. Others will never be able to understand exactly how the bereaved is feeling, so patience with whatever may come will help all relationships stay strong. If it is believed that grief is interfering with the bereaved life then counseling may be in order.