Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cumulative Grief: How to deal with multiple losses and recover from them

Cumulative Grief comes about when a person experiences one loss after another.  In a perfect world we would have the time to grieve and start living again from one loss before having to experience the next one.  Sadly, this is not always the case.  

One of the protection mechanisms utilized by our brains is the state of avoidance.  When we experience something that is horrific in nature, such as the loss of someone dear, there is a tendency to avoid thinking about the loss in order to maintain a semblance of normalcy in our lives.  We have to continue to live, work and to a degree interact with society; so we simply avoid thinking about our pain.

However, you cannot be in a state of avoidance indefinitely.  When loss follows quickly one after another, this state of avoidance grows until we find ourselves not really living our lives.  It is important to face the reality of the losses in order to not be consumed by them.
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One of the first things to do is realize that you are stuck in avoidance.  Knowing that these experiences can put you at risk for developing complicated grief symptoms is very important.  If you feel you are not handling your grief as well as you would like, there is help available to determine if you are sliding into complicated grief.

Recognize that everyone grieves differently and be compassionate to those friends and family who are handling their grief differently than you are.

Be aware of an increase in the use of alcohol or other substances to help you get through the day.  Many times those in avoidance will fall prey to addictions.

There is no time limit involved in dealing with multiple losses.  Multiple losses do not have to come in quick succession to one another, they may be spread out over many years.  Each new loss however, can renew the grief from the previous one.

One thing which can compound the grief from multiple losses is the age of the person experiencing the loss.  As we get older it more likely we will experience multiple losses due to the aging and illness of our friends and family.  This can also lead people to a crisis of faith; wondering why God would punish them in this way. 

If you have had multiple losses, please consider getting some professional help. You may be surprised by how much it helps. When you are already emotionally and physically exhausted from the pain of one loss, it can only help to seek support when more losses pile on. If that truly doesn’t feel right for you, consider other ways to attend to each of your losses. Learn about grief. Find a friend or family member to talk to. Write or journal. Find a creative outlet, like art or photography. Join a support group. Just make it something that works for you and that will allow you the opportunity to deal with each of these losses.

Blessings and Peace,

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