Sunday, February 27, 2011

Death and All His Children

It is fair to say that human nature has the ability to decieve people; to make people really believe that everything and every one is going to be here forever. Grieving after any loss, whether it is the death of a loved one, or losing someone to a mental illness, can be extremely devastating because the human psyche is never really prepared for a significant loss of any sort. No matter how hard loved ones try to repeatedly tell themselves that they will stay strong, in the end the brain cannot fool the heart. For parents who experience the agonizing loss of a child not only experience the slow grieving process, but they also must find both the ability and the courage to move on in order to look out for the surviving children.

According to an article posted by  "The Times Of India", clinical professor of psychology at York University, Dr. Stephen Fleming, says that grieving parents are stuck in this painful situation where every fiber of their being wants to stop parenting all together, yet they must fulfill the needs of the rest of the family. York’s research was based on a collection of interviews from bereaving parents. This study found that  bereaved parents do not "recover" from the loss. Instead, bereaved parenting is an act of regeneration – picking up the pieces in the face of the devastation, and regenerating both a sense of self, and a sense of the family”.

Men and women both grieve differently, and this is shown best in married couples and parents. As it turns out, men are “instrumental” grievers, where they have the mental ability to go back to work and stay committed as the working father. Men also overcome the “fear of putting their children out into an unsafe world” which is the frequent mentality of a woman.

 The woman is a more “intuitive” griever. They become more fearful and constantly worry that their other children are most likely going to die if one of their other children has died already. The survivng children are the ones that restrengthen the mother to get back to being a parent and not a worrier.

What is most fascinating about this study is that grief is a common phase that every one goes through, but still has such diversity. There is no way to pinpoint a specific population and claim that they grieve a "certain way". But this study does the deed by finding a common trait among the two genders, and will help struggling parents be able to take a step towards moving on and keeping both their bodies and minds healthy.  

-Vivian Mikhail

Photo by Emma Watters

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