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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Grief Metamorphosis-Choices, Changes, and Adjustment

I read an article this week from a minister who works with individuals experiencing grief.  I was interested in his explanation of the work someone must do on his or her grief journey.  Troglen stated that rather than the term grief “recovery” he preferred the term grief “adjustment.”  I have to agree with him.  

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines recovery as “the process of combating a disorder or perceived problem” and “regaining or returning to a normal or natural state.”  Although grieving can feel like combat sometimes, most individuals would agree that they do not return to their original normal or natural state that they were in prior to the death of the loved one.  One of the 
dictionary definitions for adjustment is “a correction or modification to reflect actual conditions.”  I think that more accurately reflects the process of grief and healing in order to modify or change themselves in order to reflect the “new normal” of life after the loss of the deceased.   
Sometimes death is likened to the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to a butterfly.  I have also seen this metamorphosis analogy applied to the grief journey, adjustment and healing.  A grieving individual is changed slowly from the person they had been (the caterpillar) to the chrysalis stage where the grieving person is in the healing cocoon before they are able to emerge on the other side of the process as the changed or adjusted person (the butterfly).  Although this could be looked at as a change (from caterpillar to butterfly) I think of it more of an adjustment necessary for survival.  In this respect I see the analogy working well with the definition of grief adjustment rather than recovery.

When a griever is faced with the daunting task of working through the changes that need to be accomplished in order to choose to come through the grief journey and heal it may seem insurmountable.  The key is in understanding that although the experience of death may have happened suddenly and quickly the work to be done to grieve and heal will take time.  It is with this understanding and self-acceptance that the grieving person can begin to build the foundation that will allow for successful adjustment and a new chapter in that individual’s life.  It takes time, tears, and tenacity but the choice is worth it.  Remember the work the caterpillar has to accomplish in order to gain the beauty and majesty of the butterfly.

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