Grief – A Very Personal Experience

November 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Posted in grief/loss | 2 Comments
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Today marks 2 months since Amya Mirica passed away.

Yesterday Chris and I went out for the first time in the evening and left Ananda Mae with my sister. We went to the classical concert of the Brandenburg Orchestra of which we have season’s tickets. The previous concert was exactly 2 months ago, the evening of Amya Mirica’s passing and the music gently reminded me of the presence of angels in the room as the beautiful angelic voice of the soloist soprano filled the concert hall serendipitously called ‘Angel’s place’. I was once again reminded that grief is a very personal experience and will be experienced in any unexpected moment and location.

This week we also went back to the hospital, where I gave birth, where we said good-bye to Amya Mirica and from where we took Ananda Mae home with us. The hospital will always hold an interesting energy and importance for me – both joy and bliss as overriding emotions associated with the birth and sadness and despair of losing my child. This time we went back to join a Bereavement Group.

It was a deep and intense morning as we shared with couples who also lost their babies. Each and every one of us is grieving. When I listened to their stories I felt connected in sharing a similar experience. In my career as a counsellor working with clients experiencing grief I was, according to their feedback, really able to support them in their process. Now however, I doubt that I was ever able to REALLY be there for them without fully understanding the depth of their experience. I think now that this is only really possible now that I gained access to this experience on a very personal level.

A few weeks ago I met my banker, who I have been talking to frequently before the birth of the twins. When I told her my story she said: I’m so sorry, I know what you’re going through. My first reaction inside was ‘I doubt you know what I’m going through’. She then however shared with me that she lost her second child through cot death at 3 months. This statement total y changed the meaning of her empathy. I have to say that I couldn’t imagine what she must have gone through in her personal experience and even though we share the part of losing one’s own child at a very young age, it’s still a very personal story and experience. She then said: ‘It will get easier’ and, in comparison to other people who could have said the same, coming from her it was founded in her personal experience and therefore I took it on board.

I also learnt this week that there are two fundamentally different ways people feel and deal with grief: the instrumental griever and the intuitive griever. The instrumental griever, historically the man, feels better by doing things as they feel unable to fix this. The intuitive griever, usually the woman, grieve through experiencing all the emotions and crying frequently. This can cause discordance in a relationship between an intuitive and an instrumental griever as they are rarely in the same place. Grieving has given our relationship a totally different level of understanding of each other, as well as ability to be with the other’s way of dealing with it.

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Book Review – On Grief And Grieving By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross And David Kessler

January 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Posted in grief/loss | Leave a comment
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This book about grief is one of my favourites and it is one of the most thorough coverage on this topic. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has helped many people find the meaning of grief through her introduction of the five stages of loss.

Summary

Understanding the Grieving Process

Basically, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross demystifies the process of grieving and helps people cope with themselves going through grief or with people they know, who have lost someone. According to her there are five stages of loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, which she explains in detail.

More in detail

Shortly before her death in 2004, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, her collaborator, completed the manuscript for this book. On Grief and Grieving is her final book and a fitting completion to her work.

The first chapter of the book is a detailed description and explanation of the five stages of grief, each part containing stories to exemplify what it would look like in people’s lives. Even just reading this part brings relief to people struggling to understand what they are going through.

The next two chapters cover the inner an outer world of grief, covering various topics of interest like: your loss, tears, dreams, regrets, roles, the story, resentment, isolation, punishment, afterlife, anniversaries, sex, your body and your health, just to name a few.

The chapter following is dedicated to special circumstances like children, multiple losses, disasters, suicide, Alzheimer disease and sudden death. If you have suffered a loss in these areas please read the specific part to give you more insight into your story.

The chapters towards the end of the book include the changing face of grief and the authors’ personal stories of their own grief.

On Grief and Grieving has profoundly influenced the way we experience the process of grief.

About the author

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, who lived between 1926 and 2004. She pioneered near-death studies and wrote seventeen books over a thirty-six years period. Her groundbreaking On Death and Dying changed the way we talked about the end of life.

After studying medicine, to the dismay of her father, she later moved to the States and continues her studies in New York. She worked as a psychiatric resident where she became interested in patients who were dying, encouraging the hospice care movement, and believing that euthanasia prevents people from competing their ‘unfinished business’.

In her later life she suffered a series of strokes in 1995, which left her partially paralyzed on her left side. In one of their final writing sessions, Kübler-Ross told Kessler, “The last nine years have taught me patience, and the weaker and more bed-bound I become, the more I’m learning about receiving love.”

Recommendation

This is must to read for anyone working or dealing with people suffering the loss of a loved one, experiencing grief themselves or dealing with terminal illness, where anticipatory grief comes into play. Personally in my work I refer to this book often when dealing with clients.

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