By Amy Beth Taublieb, PhD
There is no question that the most difficult process any human being can go through is grieving. The intense emotional pain, sense of total isolation, feelings of being unable to function in day-to-day life and, at times, the actual wondering if it is possible to go on — all can seem unbearable. To make things worse, although some physicians prescribe antidepressants in an attempt to dull the pain, truthfully, there is no available medication to “cure” these symptoms.
Although unpleasant to acknowledge, grieving is a part of living. Despite the fact that there have been voluminous numbers of publications on the topic, the fact remains that there is no prescribed system or method to abbreviate or eliminate the suffering. Further, although there is a general roadmap to describe the various stages of grief, it is crucial to note that everybody experiences these stages in their own individual way. As such, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve, and it is neither valid nor appropriate for one person to evaluate the grieving process of another.
Along these same lines, the issue of length of time is also a moot point. Whereas many experts talk about the first year being the hardest, this is not true for everybody. In no way should it be believed that after the first twelve months, the symptoms of grief should be over, or even significantly improved. The manner in which grief is experienced and expressed is a function of the relationship with the loss, combined with the psychological structure of the person suffering the loss. Keeping this in mind, it is clear that no two losses a person suffers are ever experienced in the same way. Nor do any two people experience grief in an identical manner. The adjective “normal,” or any of its variations, is not appropriate to be used to describe a person’s grief reactions — ever!
Despite the temptation to refrain from doing so, the only way grief can be resolved is by experiencing the ever so painful symptoms. Failure to do this, results in these symptoms resurfacing later on, often in an altered and more severe presentation. Whether it be done alone, with a dear friend, with a family member, or with a clinical professional, the only real way out is by going through the grief process. Grief Therapy, when offered by an experienced professional, is often a valuable tool to help those experiencing loss travel down the psychologically treacherous road. Remember, it is those individuals who attempt to deny, ignore, or repress their feelings of grief who end up with emotional struggles later on.
Dr Amy Beth Taublieb is a Western New York licensed psychologist, media personality, and public speaker. Dr. Taublieb’s active practice includes psychotherapy and assessment for individuals, couples, and families. Contact Dr. Taublieb at 716-834-1505 or refer to her website at www.dramybeth.com.