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Monday, January 28, 2013

A Rose by Any Other Name? Grief, Loss, Bereavement

There is a popular train of thought that all losses we experience throughout our lifetime affect the way that we handle the next loss. In this aspect a loss can be simply changes we experience such as the feeling of being in a strange motel while on vacation, moving out of the home you grew up in, or moving to a different apartment or home. All of these are rife with adjustments or what some might call subtle grief that require changes in how you think and behave.
The question then is do these small losses prepare us--positively or negatively--for the bigger losses in life?  Or is this too much of a simplification and taking away from the real pain and trauma of grief and bereavement after the loss of a loved one?  Research conducted in 2003 found that participants who had experienced loss, humiliation, or other adverse life events were more likely to have a significant depressive episode later in life.
In the past few years the subject of grief and loss has become more prevalent in the mainstream media.  There has been much more discussion on talk shows and in print about the whole grief journey and this may have helped people to have a better understanding about this life event.  On the other hand there may be a over-emphasis and use of the terms grief and loss.  After all can we really compare the death of a pet with the death of a loved one?  Grief is an individual and highly personal reaction and is based on many internal and external factors.  Perhaps the best thing we can do as a society is to honor the griever by not having expectations about what is "normal." 

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