The other day I had a discussion with someone about our mutual friend who had been an on-air personality and reporter both radio and television for all of his adult life. When he aged out and lost both positions he was devastated. Storm clouds moved in and he became very unhealthy very quickly and seemed to give up. I was so sad to think his loss of identity hit him like a category 5 hurricane. The discussion got me thinking about the myriad of reasons why people grieve, and how some folks might not recognize grief and therefore do not get the help needed to weather their personal storm.
I am a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. The founders of the Grief Recovery Methods define grief as “the conflicting feelings caused by the end or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” They cite a scale of stressors created by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, which details the 40+ life events that are most liable to create feelings of grief, and in turn, cause illness and other health-related problems. The founders of Grief Recovery Methods switched the purpose of identifying stress to grief and added a few of their own.
- Death of a spouse
- Marital separation
- Loss of approval
- Loss of safety
- Loss of control of my body
- Death of a close family member
- Personal injury or illness
- Dismissal from work
- Marital reconciliation
- Change in health of family member
- Sexual difficulties
- Gain a new family member
- Business readjustment
- Change in financial state
- Death of a close friend
- Change to different line of work
- Change in frequency of arguments
- Major mortgage
- Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
- Change in responsibilities at work
- Child leaving home
- Trouble with in-laws
- Spouse starts or stops work
- Begin or end school
- Change in living conditions
- Revision of personal habits
- Trouble with boss
- Change in working hours or conditions
- Change in residence
- Change in schools
- Change in recreation
- Change in church activities
- Change in social activities
- Change in sleeping habits
- Change in number of family reunions
- Change in eating habits
- Minor violation of law
- Loss of Trust
I noticed that a lot of the items on the list seem as if caused by the grief, not the other way around. But, I just wanted to share that there are so many possible causes of grief, not just death and that each should be considered when faced with symptoms of unexplained depression, loneliness, confusion, numbness, anger, or feelings of hopelessness.
Side note: I cannot say it enough, the so-called Seven Stages of Grief, were not created for grievers. Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross came up with those stages when describing what she witnessed with patients who were dying. Her work with death and dying inspired the worldwide creation of thanatology courses in colleges and universities. She was at the forefront of the knowledge that dying patients should be treated with honesty, dignity and caring not stuck in the room at the far end of the hallway with the least amount of interaction with hospital staff. She started her work in the ’60s. Sadly my brother Bobby died exactly five years ago in 2014 and I watched in horror when he was moved into the last room on the right in the oncology unit. Nothing had changed. Ironically there was a huge banner out in front of this hospital proclaiming it the #3 hospital in the Nation for patient care. I was quite angry when I saw it. What a joke. (Full story for another time.)
Anyway, I hope this list gives you insight into your own feelings and emotions as well as those around you who might be grieving and don’t even know it. There is recovery from life’s powerful storms. But, you have to see it and seek help to navigate your way through it.
Please let me know what you think of the list and if you think other items should be added.
PS Thank you Jeremy Thomas for the great photo!