|Thanks for stopping by the blog - this month I'm writing about a pretty difficult topic but one that everyone experiences to varying degrees at some point in their lives - the topic of grief and loss. This third post of the month will cover the possible impacts a person may experience after enduring a loss or bereavement which includes a segment on complicated grief. In case you missed the first couple of posts, here they are for you to bookmark and check out later:
This post will be separated into two sections - the impacts of grief and loss which will be explored through a biopsychosocial-spiritual lens, and a segment on complicated grief.
*If you are currently experiencing difficulties connected to a loss and find the information in this article difficult to read or process, please reach out for more support from friends, family, a counsellor or your family doctor.
Impacts of Grief & Loss
In last weeks post, I mentioned that each person will have a unique experience of grief, depending on many different variables including the meaning or connection they had to the loss. A useful lens to use while exploring the impact of a loss is to explore the biopsychosocial-spiritual areas of a persons life and how they may be affected during the grieving process.
It can be normal for an individual to describe having 'butterflies in their stomach' or a 'twisted gut' after hearing about a loss. Physical symptoms of a loss can occur due to the mind-body connection which is the link between our emotional and physical states. Other physical symptoms can include feeling aches and pains (with the absence of physical exercise), headaches, a decrease or increase in appetite, feeling nauseous or having digestion issues. Other common physical concern connected with grief is the inability to sleep (insomnia), oversleeping or anxiety and panic.
The psychological component of grief can be much more apparent although symptoms may be experienced differently by each person. For example, a common experience of disbelief or even denial of a loss can be one of the first reactions to a loss. Although it seems counterproductive, denial may be a way to continue forward for some people, since the pain of loss can be crippling, especially if there is a strong attachment to the loss.
Other emotional impacts can include sadness and in some cases, prolonged periods of sadness known as complicated grief which will be explored in the next section. The experience of sadness can also lead to situational depression and can impact an individuals daily life in profound ways including experiencing an inability to get out of bed, attend work, or socialize with others.
Yet another example of the emotional or psychological impact of a loss is apparent in the externalization of anger. Emotional outbursts or passive aggressive behaviour towards others, the loss, or internalized anger is generally the result of other underlying emotions including denial, sadness, or longing to have the loss returned. Anger can be a normal experience of loss but can also impact the person and those around the grieving individual including causing relationship issues or isolation.
Following a loss, an individual who is usually energetic and communicative can appear sullen and withdrawn. It can be difficult to be around others, even those who are supportive, after the experience of a loss. For some, it can be impossible to describe the impact that a loss can produce, and therefore it may seem like others cannot understand or may not appreciate the pain and anguish that is occurring.
The impact on the social area of a persons life after a loss can include isolation (staying in bed or indoors, not wanting to leave the house), not attending social or cultural events, and even difficulty with daily tasks of living. The sense of just 'wanting to be left alone' can be common and, for some, necessary to process acute grief symptoms. Ongoing social withdrawal or isolation may be a sign of complicated grieving.
"Death creates chaos and confusion. Rituals provide a sense of routine and normalcy. Rituals and customs provide a set of directions that help structure the time surrounding death." ~ Cancer.net
Questioning religious or spiritual beliefs can also be a common impact of an experience of loss. Questions that relate to the reasons or fairness of a loss event can occur for a person who practices spirituality and can be detrimental to their existing belief system. Why did this happen? Can be a common question asked, and, for some, it can lead to an exploration of spiritual or religious practices in order to find the answers.
There can also be many different cultural practices following a loss or bereavement that can help to process the impacts of a loss. The impact of a loss can be even more difficult if a family has several members with differing cultural or religious practices following a loss. It can help to take into consideration these differences and to share an understanding that each person may grieve or process the impact of a loss differently.
Listen to the podcast hosted by Cancer.net for more information regarding grief & loss including the impacts and individual can experience during this process:
According to Mayo Clinic, a person who has endured a loss can experience complicated grief (CG) which is when "feelings of loss are debilitating and don't improve even after time passes". Approximately 10% of people who have experienced a loss or bereavement may suffer from complicated grief, and symptoms can be so severe that a person may not be able to resume their usual daily lives. The causes of complicated grief are not well known but may be connected to inherited traits, hormones or personality distinctions, or even the environment.
Ongoing signs that could suggest grieving has become complicated:
Listen to complicated grief therapist Bonnie Gorscak talk about the difficulties of CG both for an individual experiencing the intensity and despair of this level of grief, as well at the compassion fatigue that can accompany working with individuals who experience such extreme mourning. Thankfully, there is treatment available for CG, and as The Centre for Complicated Grief shares on their website, therapy based on the principles of interpersonal therapy, motivational interviewing, positive psychology and cognitive-behavioral therapy can be helpful for this condition.
It's important to note that complicated grief is different from depression and the extreme nature of CG can cause a person to feel hopeless about the future and experience suicidal thoughts or ideation.
*If you or someone you know is experiencing intense and prolonged difficulties following a loss, reach out to a health provider such as a doctor or nurse, or a mental health practitioner such as a therapist or helpline for more support.
Have you signed up for the free mental health resource library yet?
This digital library holds all of the freebies I have created, including an eBook on anxiety and the newest addition -the entire first chapter of
The Anxiety Pocket eWorkbook. Click here for access!
References: grief.com, cancer.net, psychguides.com, mayoclinic.org, healthline.com, complicatedgrief.columbia.edu
*Please note that some of the links on this page are embedded with affiliate links. Any revenue that I receive through affiliate marketing helps me to keep the rates charged to clients lower so that more individuals can access therapy at an affordable rate.
|The theme on the blog this month has focused on the topic of loss and grief (as chosen by a poll I conducted on Twitter - thank you to those who participated!). Understandably, loss and grief can be a difficult topic to read about and so, while I highly appreciate your time, if you have experienced a loss recently, or are experiencing a tough time, please be mindful of your own emotions and well-being as some of the information in the post (and series) may be tough to read while in the midst of grief.
|Welcome to the Bloggers Corner which is a focus for all of the incredibly talented online bloggers I have had the pleasure of meeting along my own blogging journey so far. As a therapist, I am always curious to hear about the experiences and journey that has led a person to become who they are today, and so far I have found that each blogger has a unique story to tell of their own. Today I am excited to introduce Connie from EssentiallyBroken.com who writes about her own experiences of grief and loss and her journey of helping others focusing on suicide prevention. Let's hear more about Connie and her inspirational work.
|Whether you listen through your car stereo on your way to work, on with noise-canceling headphones on a walk through your neighbourhood, podcasts can be a great source of information on a range of topics, including mental health. Listening to podcasts that focus on increasing your awareness can be helpful to incorporate into your daily routine as part of self-care or enlightenment strategies. Since there are a lot (and I mean a ton) of podcasts to chose from, I thought I would highlight a few interesting ones I have come across that focus on mindfulness and meditations practices so that you can check them out yourself.
|Anyone who has read my previous blog articles knows that I'm a huge advocate for self-care. This may have something to do with the fact that I'm a trained therapist.. or simply because it's just so important to me that we take time to care for our health and well-being in order to prevent mental and physical ailments and to enjoy life. Either way, I wanted to explore the concept of self-care in more detail.. so here we go!
|What emotions do you associate with the word 'money'? How do you feel when you think of your own financial portfolio? If the emotions you associate with the concept of money relate to feels of stress, sadness, anger or even fear, you're not alone. According to debt.org, difficulty with finances is very common and an unhealthy relationship with money can cause emotional turmoil for some individuals, and can even lead to mental health concerns such as depression.
|Have you ever wondered how your physical (bodily) well-being is connected and impacted by your mental (emotional) well-being, and vice versa? This blog post will explore this undeniable connection and outline 7 distinct ways that your physical health is connected to your mental health.
Welcome to the first ever Bloggers Corner! Previously, I have showcased talented therapists and mental health professionals through the Therapists Corner posts every month, but this month I wanted to shake things up and also start interviewing some of the incredibly talented online bloggers I have had a the pleasure of meeting recently. Today I am excited to introduce Chelle from CoffeeHeartMind.com who writes about her own experiences of chronic illness through her lifestyle blog where she also highlights the talents of other bloggers in an interview series More recently she has also started a personal blog called Infinitely Chelle. Let's hear more about Chelle and her blogging adventures!
|Talking about clinical depression can be pretty tough, as it might not be a topic that gets talked about so often over the dinner table or in a casual conversation with friends, so I'm glad that you have been able to stay with me through this 4-part series on depression. This post will hopefully be a bit more uplifting as we explore the various self-care strategies that can help reduce the symptoms of depression, as well as professional treatments available that can be immensely helpful at diminishing the impact of depression on a persons life. In case you would like to revisit the first three posts in the series, here is a recap (or you can bookmark them for later):
|Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world impacting over 300 million people worldwide (that's about the population of the United States of America!), and while 3-5% of adults in the US suffer from depression at any given time, many people may not know the signs and symptoms of clinical depression. It's also important to note that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide (and if you haven't read my blog post about mental health in the workplace, bookmark it for later!).