A number of writers have discussed into depth some of the major issues and concepts that relates to grief studies. Some of the issues and concepts in grief studies include the effects of grief and bereavement on people, as well as, the physical, spiritual, and developmental repercussions of grief and bereavement (Stoebe, Hansson, Stroebe & Schut, 2001).
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Currently, several researches are being conducted to look into the biological, psychological, and societal issues that pertain to grief and bereavement (Stroebe, Hansson, Stroebe & Schut, 2001).
A number of definitions have been coined to explain the various terms that are normally used to describe a person or people who have lost a loved one. Scholars of grief studies have also laid down the difference that exists between grief, bereavement, and mourning. Therefore, it is important to establish whether a person is undergoing normal or pathological grief. As a result, it will be easier to give appropriate diagnosis to a client based on the kind of grief he or she is undergoing.
For instance, determining whether a client is undergoing through a pathological or normal grief will help to establish whether the bereaved person requires psychiatric referral or whether the grief results from the societal and cultural orientation of the bereaved person (Stroebe, Hansson, Stroebe & Schut, 2001).
According to Stroebe, Hansson, Stroebe & Schut (2001), the symptoms of grief tend to differ from one individual to another, as well as, from one society to another. Symptoms of grief frequently manifest in a number of ways. For example, grief can be manifested behaviorally, cognitively, physiologically, somatically, as well as, affectively. However, the manner in which grief manifests majorly depends on the culture of a person.
Stages of Grieving
The grief process can be categorized into three major stages, which include the following: the initial stage, intermediate stage and the final stage (Lamb, 1988). According to Lamb (1988), the initial stage of the grief process involves processing the grief and developing ways of coping with the grief.
However, there are individuals who tend to remain in denial and isolation because they cannot come to terms with the loss of a loved one. It is also at this stage that a number of individuals go numb due to the loss of a loved one. As a result, it becomes a challenge for someone to develop ways of coping with the grief.
In the intermediate stage the grieved person; usually express deeper and intense emotions because of the loss of a loved one. Several people are often overwhelmed with anger in the intermediate stage. Unfortunately, the anger has no limits and often extends to people around the grieved person.
Because of the grief, a person may adopt the use of drug substances to enable him or her to alleviate the pain. Others may engage in other activities as a way of dealing with the pain. The final stage of the grief process, involves the grieved person coming into terms with the loss (Lamb, 1988).
It is also at this stage that a person gets to understand that despite the loss of a loved one he or she has to move on with life. Therefore, it is at the final stage of the grief process that most people fully understand and accept the fact that death is a natural occurrence that is inevitable (Lamb, 1988). By coming into terms with the loss of a loved one, a person will be able to heal and get over the grief faster.
Grief refers to an inevitable period of time in which a person or a group of people undergoes a heart breaking loss. The loss usually affects a person psychologically, emotionally, physiologically, as well as, spiritually. Grief is characterized by two major elements. First, most people who experience grief usually live in denial.
In most instances, the grieved person normally expresses the denial in terms of pain, anger, or agitation (Rando, 1984). According to the psychoanalytic theory, there are individuals who use introjection as a defense mechanism when undergoing grief. Introjection is a form of denial because it is a type of psychological and emotional make-up. Therefore, it is important for a person to process the loss of a loved one because this will enable him or her to heal psychologically and emotionally.
According to Fahey-McCarthy (2003), introjection is not a form of denial. Fahey-McCarthy (2003), argues that it is more reassuring to hold onto a mental representation of the deceased person because this will enable the grieved person to have a sense of balance.
However, this can be termed as a form of cognitive dissonance because it does not depict the true nature of a person’s emotional and psychological well being. As a result, the grieved person may not fully come to terms with the loss and he or she might suffer from depression. Fahey-McCarthy (2003) believes that the grieving is an emotional process that cannot be intellectualized.
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The characteristics of grief can also be categorized under traumatic conditions (Neria & Litz, 2003). According to Neria & Litz, 2003), grief can be pathological when it results from a traumatic experience. For example, a person is more likely to undergo pathological grief when the loss occurs unexpectedly and violently.
Some of the experiences that have the potential of causing a pathological grief include fatal accidents caused by bombing attacks, fire outbreaks, or a plane crash. Most people find it difficult to process grief that results from such unexpected and violent events. Therefore, a good number of individuals usually live in denial whenever such events occur.
Attachment Theory of Grief
According to the attachment theory, infants develop bonds with their parents and other important people in their lives (Servaty-Seib, 2004). Therefore, most people are likely to undergo distress whenever a termination of the bond occurs through death (Servaty-Seib, 2004).
Attachment or a bond also refers to the calmness experienced by infants whenever they are under the care of their parents (Stroebe, Hansson, Stroebe & Schut, 2001). The attachment created between the caregiver and the infant has the potential of influencing personality and brain development of infants. Infants usually develop attachments to consistent caregivers instinctively. These attachments are for the purposes of survival and security.
It is against this background that it becomes difficult for a person to deal with the loss of a person he or she has developed an attachment. For example, Fahey-McCarthy (2003), explores her personal experience in relation to grief when she underwent a stillbirth. According to Fahey-McCarthy (2003), a person is likely to undergo five phases of mourning as stipulated in Bowlby’s attachment theory.