Bouncing back from griefs

Shocks and griefs are inescapable truths of human existence. Amita Amin-Shinde on how to cope with bereavement.
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Updated on Jul 09, 2007 01:55 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByAmita Amin-Shinde, Mumbai

One can never be prepared for death, even though it's inevitable. After losing a family member, it's natural to go through the stages of mourning.. shock, grief and perhaps a deep sense of depression.

In extreme cases, however, depression can lead way to suicidal thoughts.

Take the case of 70-year-old Sanjiv Lalwani (name changed). With the children having flown the nest, he and his wife lived alone. Then, he lost his wife. Alone and depressed, Lalwani attempted suicide by consuming pills five months after his wife's death.

He was saved in the nick of time and advised psychological counselling. Two years later, he is off medication.

"When Lalwani was taken into counselling, we realised that he harboured guilt of not caring enough for his wife.

Of course, that wasn't the case, but he blamed himself nevertheless," says psychiatrist and child counsellor Dr Dipti Shah.

When someone passes away.. be it because of a long illness or an accident, it's important to involve the immediate relatives in all the rituals.

"This helps the family members to accept death.. be it a mother who has lost a son, or a husband who has lost his wife," Shah adds.

Studies state that 30 per cent of men die within one year of losing their wife. This is because men don't express their feelings freely. "It's somewhat similar to being able to talk about politics and sport, not the expensive shirt they bought," explains Shah.

Tender stages
The first two months are the toughest. It's natural to feel shock and then anger. One may struggle with questions like, "Why is this happening to me?" and "What wrong did I do?"

Some others may go into a denial mode, followed by depression.

Some others may finally go on to accept the situation. In extreme cases like Lalwani's, the bereaved person may not be able to cope with the pain. This is when family mem bers and friends come into the picture.

Crying is good
Let the person cry.. unburden the pain. Psycho-therapists and counsellors all over the world regard crying as something constructive rather than destructive. Tears are also considered a means of releasing physiological tensions.

Of course, it's essential to talk as well. However, the discussions should veer towards the positive.. focus on the happy memories as far as possible.

Business as usual
The sooner the bereaved person returns to routine life, the better. A housewife should involve herself in the daily running of the house.. perhaps even take up a hobby.

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