Loss and grieving

By Ashley Bergman

The world has lost another wonderful, entertaining and comedic spirit. Joan Rivers passed away after suffering cardiac arrest during a medical procedure. Many have been affected by this tragic event, especially Joan’s daughter Melissa who had to choose to pull Joan off life support. Our hearts go out to Melissa and all who have been affected.

This is just one incident of the many tragedies and hardships we face. When we are put in these situations and lose loved ones, we begin to grieve. Grieving is a natural response to losing a loved one and often looks different for each individual.

The five stages of grief is a piece of advice individuals may hear when discussing the healing process. In the order they are given, they consist of denial, anger, bargaining/helplessness, depression, and acceptance. The five stages of grief could be defined as a snapshot of what to possibly expect during the healing process. However each healing process is completely unique and individualistic.

One may feel these emotions and feelings more than once and one may not experience them whatsoever. However, instead of assigning ourselves to a specific template of grieving, suggestions for loss and grief include allowing oneself to “make time and take time” to mourn the loss.

According to Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D, feeling these overwhelming emotions is perfectly acceptable. Goldstein also suggests to ensure some form of healthy self-care during this process as it is extremely difficult to experience losing a loved one.

Individuals can experience existential issues concerning the meaning of life and death when a loss occurs. Questioning one’s own existence and purpose in life may be integrated during the time or grieving and can last until healing has begun. In these occurrences seeking counseling, speaking to a confidant, spiritual leader or mentor may be helpful when existential issues begin to develop.

Finally, remember your emotions and feelings are valid. Grieving is a difficult experience. These experiences are different and unique for each individual. Please do not hesitate to seek counseling or advice from a professional in order to ensure freedom of expression, coping and healing.

(Ashley Bergman, B.S. Professional Counseling/MFT, Graduate Student Therapist ashley.janszencounseling@gmail.com)

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