Why Does My Grief Make Me Feel So Different?

Grief is a part of life, but it is a part that no one discusses. The key to knowing what is normal and what isn’t following a tragic event is knowing what signs to be on the lookout for. Pick up a flyer at your local clinic if you’re unsure, but always remember, there are shared experiences that those who’ve suffered a tragedy will be able to respond to.

sadness

Shock

Shock is known to be a form of numbness that hits for a period of anywhere between moments after the event and months onwards. It’s not abnormal to feel nothing after a tragedy. Don’t ever let yourself feel that it is. Shock is the body and mind’s way of compartmentalizing the stress factor so that it can study it like printed records when it feels that you are more capable of handling the full force of what has happened to you and your family or friends. If the shock does not immediately pass, don’t panic. Grief is handled in varying stages of severity. You are not ill. You are suffering.

Suffering

This is described as the period after shock when an individual has to fight the full effect of the tragedy that has come to pass. It is characterized by feelings of being overwhelmed, being unable to connect one aspect of the event to another, and sometimes even fighting the reality of what has taken place in the form of denial.

Sadness and Anger

These two emotions, though they may seem very different, are tied together in a vicious cycle. Tragedy comes with both of these elements in tow. Oftentimes, anger replaces sadness as it is just easier to feel angry than it is to feel sad. Anger makes us feel powerful, big and strong. but sadness is more like being cowed. When we’re sad, we’re vulnerable.

Anxiety

Everyone feels anxiety at some point in their lives. Whether it’s anxiety over that big project due at work today, or anxiety because the guy twirling the banner on the street corner is too close to the car, the basic feeling is similar. Something bad is going to happen and we’re not sure what it is just yet, but in that moment we’re absolutely positive that a bad event is around the corner. In people who have suffered trauma, the anxiety is that much worse by the fact that something bad HAS happened. Anxiety is easily dealt with using grounding techniques, meditation, and breathing regulation. But in the event that it does not pass, a professional’s help may be required.

Depression

Depression is something to be on the lookout for when dealing with tragedy. It is not nearly as easily resolved as the aforementioned difficulties and can lead to a number of complications. Like anything else, though, depression occurs in varying degrees. If it’s severe to the point of affecting your way of life, do not be a hero, see a professional!

Always remember; your suffering doesn’t make you strange. You’re not alone. Someone is always there to listen, but you have to be willing to help yourself before anyone can help you.

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is what happens if your stress over the tragedy, the traumatic event that occurred in your life, is never taken seriously enough to be healed through counselling, self-help, medication, or anything at all. It is a lifelong condition that occurs initially very much like the after-effects of tragedy for most sufferers but continues long after the event with such severity that it has been related to violence and regression. PTSD is most commonly seen in war veterans, accident victims, and people that have lost a loved one. The symptoms of PTSD can last for more than a month after the event. Children may not show the signs of PTSD as clearly as their adult counterparts, but the symptoms can be seen in the way that they play and interact with others around them. In the case of adults, PTSD can often result in suicide due to an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

worried-girl

What signs and symptoms should we be on the lookout for?

The first thing that you must understand is that most people that are affected by a tragic event will not be prone to PTSD. It is not as common as popular media has made it out to seem. That being said, any person that has experienced a tragedy (even if it was not first-hand) is at risk. PTSD is not limited to the direct interaction with a tragic event but can be experienced by people who have not been directly involved in an accident or seen a loved one die. While the symptoms of PTSD vary, they tend to appear early on following the event of the tragedy; usually within the first three months are when the warning signs first appear. People with PTSD tend to relive/re-experience an event that has occurred, they may actively avoid certain instances that remind them of the event, they may be easily aroused to reaction by reminders of the event (such as soldiers returning from war reacting violently to the sight of uniforms or war films), and they may suffer severe mood swings and periods of depression.

Let’s say, for instance, Jane’s tragedy has caused her to suffer PTSD and she experiences the symptom of reliving the event in conjunction with arousal at such reminders. Should she see the same banner on a car for the same Sign Company that she was involved in her collision with, Jane may suffer a flashback, which can be harmful to both herself and others.

How does one treat PTSD?

Treatment of PTSD is similar to any normal tragedy-treatment. As per the usual avenues: reflection, meditation, reading, self-help, vacations, therapy – these things can all be solutions to the problem. But, in the end, where PTSD is concerned, the best solution is often medication and psychotherapy. In such an instance, the psyche-scarring is too deep for self-care to do the trick. Watch out for the signs and be wary of ignoring anything that may seem suspicious if you or a loved one are showing the aforementioned symptoms.

Are There Any Real Solutions?

So how are the best ways to deal with tragedy? There are the obvious solutions: hide the soul-gutting affects of it behind metaphorical flags and banners that promise there is nothing wrong. Tell our loved ones that we’re fine even when we’re not. Medicate, drink, medicate some more. We could even shop. Retail therapy is definitely not something to stick one’s nose up at. But let’s face it, these aren’t long-term solutions. As stated, the answer is not a figment somewhere that the eye can’t trace it; it’s closer than we think. All it takes is a little empathy, self-evaluation, thinking, and progression.

Solutions to be found in others

Support groups are a great way to cope with tragedy. Talking is the most basic form of human communication and can be cathartic, in spite of the fear that in talking about a tragic event, one must relive it. Let’s take an example:

Jane finds herself waking up in the middle of the night from nightmares. Every night she relives the moment that her husband Louis’ face hit the windshield as their vehicle came into a headlong collision with the Sign Company’s truck. She sees the same image over and over, the banner wrapped vehicle coming clear through the rain, the address for Las Vegas, Nevada. The trauma of it has her not only stuck inside her own head but losing sleep. She fears that, by talking to anyone, let alone a whole group of people, she’ll only be forced to see the same image more and more until it haunts her every waking second. Not so. The moment of sharing, of finding someone else who shares Jane’s horrifying fears, night sweats, and her terror of driving makes Jane realize she is not alone!

Can the answer be found in spiritualism?

Yes! You don’t have to be religious to know that your body is not the end of who and what you are. Your mind needs as much healing as your body does. A broken bone heals, but a broken heart can hurt forever. Jane, from our previous example, should have taken her nightmares as a sign of a spirit in need of some serious healing. Meditation and reflection, while always helpful, can be a little hard to achieve without training or at least a little guidance. Why not see if the answers can be found in the printed word? Books that offer guidance and support literally flood the shelves of most bookstores and can certainly be helpful as a starting point if you are asking yourself: where do we go from here?

Are the solutions permanent?

Sadly, no. Trauma is a lifelong scar that people who have experienced a tragedy carry on their hearts. It may heal, but the memories of it never really will. As we said; it’ll fade, and some new good things can come from it with a little self-care and constant reminder that there is nowhere to go but up.

This video should help:

Defining Tragedy

Tragedy is a concept as old as human memory; the Greeks had a word for it before humanity could even begin to know what the social and mental repercussions of such events could be, let alone the damage done to one’s emotions. Tragedy is defined as an event which is calamitous or even fatal in some extreme cases, and no matter the advice, the promises of better things to come, or the platitudes, a tragedy is not a small matter to the affected individual. It can’t just be overcome with a smile, a hug, a warm cup of tea, or a story about someone else overcoming his own personal trials and tribulations. It cannot be covered up by flying banners that say: “I’m fine,” and then forgotten about. The victim of the tragedy will always be affected, in varying degrees. Maybe, eventually, the pain will lessen, the nightmares will cease, and the memories will fade to something vaguely unpleasant. But such a process can take years to come full cycle.

Now we have our Definition, what do we do with it?

Depression

As dire as the effects of tragedy seem from the definitions and the sources of treatment from the therapists, it is as common as the first sniffles of a small cold and shared about as virally. The trouble with human culture is that it isn’t considered to be “done” to air one’s emotions as vividly as they appear in the minds of the tragedy-afflicted. We don’t talk about our tragedies. We don’t because no one wants to hear a sad tale. But in repressing our feelings, our fears, and the events that shaped us, we allow them to control us. We walk through life like ghosts in the fog and we never connect with each other in the one way that we can, without judgment, through comfort and compassion. Life shouldn’t be the proverbial lonely walk through the Nevada desert, chewing on cacti. If we can share the experience, we can somehow learn to overcome it, can’t we? But we ignore the glaring signs that remind us that we aren’t alone, and we trudge on aimlessly.

Where do the answers lie?

One every street corner, there are thousands of flyers and pamphlets that promise the treatment of trauma, by doctors and specialists, therapists and healers of the modern world that promise to help us find the answer. But the answer is inside us. We can learn not only how to come to terms with our tragedy, but how to own and control it. Without that knowledge, that inherent ability to calculate, evaluate, and analyse our own minds and reactions, we let it control us. Medication is seldom the solution, though a great deal of afflicted members of society choose to be medicated over having to deal with their own tragedy, their own pain. Sadly, that term “medication” is often taken very loosely, and we find people hiding their pain behind slot machines in Las Vegas, Nevada, or drinking themselves to death in bars. In the worst cases, the solutions that people find are so much worse than just treatable addictions. In so many cases, one tragedy leaves a stain so vibrant on the afflicted individual’s soul, that it can never be erased, and the tragedy builds. It doesn’t have to be this way. Tragedy doesn’t have to rule us. We can fight it, overcome it, conquer it and its vicissitudes.