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There are many cases where a person encounters a very serious, traumatic event and cannot remember it. For example, a woman is raped and cannot recall the event or the appearance of the rapist. A friend of mine was in an automobile accident. A car ran a red light and plowed into the side of his car. He cannot recall any details of the accident from several hours before it to occurred to several after. That is a defense mechanism that is important for the mental protection of the victim. It is a form of numbing and shock..
Denial can include amnesia and shock as well as other points discussed before. They are very powerful emotions. Considering adding anger. You are really burned about a death. Now throw in guilt and depression. You feel lonely and isolated. Add anxiety. That feeling one gets when they are about to give a speech to a large audience, where there seems to be a grinding away in the stomach pit, and a desire to run away. Lastly, to make matters even worse, there is despair. It is the feeling all the other emotions will never go away. When all of these emotions are coupled together it is almost too much for one person withstand. The result of that nasty union is grief. The feeling is terrible!
It would seem one remedy for grief would be to get drunk and stay drunk. After all, isn't there a lot of drinking at funerals. Another would be to get the doctor to dish out the tranquilizers, or go on a trip to forget about the misery. All of these escape techniques, collectively known as fugue, don't really work. They may ease the pain to some degree, but at the termination of the fugue you return to where you left off in the grieving process. So there's a chance you will face a permanent addiction or you have to avoid fugue and face the problem head on.
Grief can make one believe they are mentally ill. Avoiding friends and not wanting to socialize are part of it. Sleeping with, or periodically enjoying the smells of, articles of clothing once worn by the one lost is quite common. To see your dead spouse sitting at the table waiting for dinner, being overly concerned with your thoughts, sleeplessness, anxiety, and the host of other emotions will surely stimulate the feeling of going crazy. Many mothers want to become an intricate part of a child's funeral by attending the embalming, holding and caressing the dead child, helping to dress the body, and arranging them in the casket. Some far-sighted funeral directors cater to these desires, and may even show the baby in a bassinet or hold the baby in their arms while conversing with the parents. The parents may wish to transport the body to the cemetery. They may help to dig the grave, or participate in the burial process. If one understands that this a completely normal part of the grieving process it will be therapeutic. It is normal to encounter these emotions and activities. The deceased is missed terribly and these mental processes are a way of avoiding letting go.
How long does grief last? A simple formula is a general guideline. For each year you have known the deceased closely you can expect to have about 1 week of intense grief. The intensity is determined, in part, by the closeness of the relationship. You can expect about one month per year of a close relationship for the grief to taper off. If you were making a graph of grief, the line would remain high on the graph for the intense grief and then would gradually drop as the grief wore off. The level it drops to depends entirely on the person and their relationship to the deceased. For some, the grief will never disappear. Also, as the line drops it may have slight upward movements especially on anniversaries, holidays, and other memory-invoking occasions.
What should be said at a funeral to a grieving person? Nobody wants it to look like they are speaking canned and insincere comments. The grievers should not be avoided. A genuine concern for what has happened to them should be shown. Prescribing behavior should be avoided. It's okay to say, "____'s death made me feel very sad.", "How are you coping?", "This must be very hard on you.", or "How are you holding up?" If, "May I do anything for you?" is said it should be connected with concrete suggestions or actions! Talking about the reasons why you decided to attend the funeral, and referring to personal memories of the good times you have had with the deceased are extremely helpful. Grievers do not want their loved ones forgotten!
The following are examples of what has been said but should not have been:
"I know how you must feel." - You really don't and this brings out anger.
"You are young so you can remarry."
"It was God's will." - Tell this to a kid and you will set them up for atheism. Besides, God is not that mean!
"You have an angel in Heaven." - The mourner doesn't want an angel in Heaven. They want the loved one here!
"This happened for the best."
"It's better to have happened now before you really knew the baby."
"It's better this way because the child was so deformed."
And referring to the child or baby as a "fetus" or "thing" is also taboo.
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