A few weeks ago one of my grandmothers had a sudden and fatal illness that ended her life. It was a shock to all of my immediate family members. As the doctor in the family I was called upon to answer questions about what was the best medical course of action for my grandmother and the family. I was happy to be supportive to my family and use my medical knowledge to help provide insight to the best decision for everyone involved. It also gave me the opportunity to detach from the situation and become a caregiver and a helper instead of just being a grieving granddaughter. I watched my father and uncle going through disbelief that my grandmother was talking one day and no longer with us the next. My heart went out to them and my other family that was so devastated for our loss. I was sad too but logically it made sense that with her injuries that she was now making a transition from life to death. It was not until the funeral that the emotions and stress that I had been carrying for two weeks hit me. I was physically exhausted and had difficulty handling daily activities like showering or preparing food for myself. I felt achy and lethargic. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was not really dealing with my grief and loss. I had been in first stage of grief -- denial -- for two weeks before I was able to connect and experience my grief. I decided to research more about grief and share my findings with you in this blog. The definition of grief according to medicinenet.com is the normal internal feeling one experiences in reaction to a loss, while bereavement is the state of having experienced that loss.
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed a series of the stages of grief that she believes that people go through whenever they have lost something dear to them. I remember learning about these stages in medical school. We were taught to be aware of them when dealing with terminally ill patients. Recognizing the stages and working with the patient could help them have mental and emotional peace during their illness process, and is considered in naturopathic medicine a necessary part of the whole treatment plan for patients.
Because of the context that I learned them, I thought these stages of grief only applied to the person dealing with a medical illness. But during this time of losing a family member, I realized that it is for the person dealing with the medical illness as well as the family members who have to watch the person transition from life to death.
The five stages of grief are:
1) denial and isolation 2) anger 3)bargaining 4)depression 5) acceptance
In the next blog we will look at each of the stages and how to know if you are, or a loved one is, experiencing them.
Here is the link for the second article:
Sources: Medicinenet.com – Information on Grief: Loss of a Loved One. Web. 15 Aug. 2011. http://www.medicinenet.com/loss_grief_and_bereavement/article.htm
Memorial Hospital – information on 5 stages of Grief. Web. 15 Aug. 2011. http://www.memorialhospital.org/library/general/stress-the-3.html