Loss & Grief Survival Kit
Module 4 page 2
We don't function well as human beings when we're in isolation.
— Robert Zemeckis
My father was a farmer who, whenever he was erecting a fence, would sing a song that had an opening line that went something like this. "Give me land, lots of land where the skies are blue above - but don't fence me in. . . ."
Life's like that. When the skies are blue above, and things go well, we want to expand our horizons. But when the storms of loss come upon us, we perceive that there are too many things in the open spaces that could further hurt us, so we react by restricting the boundaries of our lives. We can restrict the boundaries to such a degree, that we end up in a restricted high-fenced home paddock that prevents others from getting in to help us and prevents us from getting out. We can become prisoners of our worst enemy . . . self. When people lose their sense of security they become self-protective.
Common forms of Self-protection — Withdrawal and Aggression
When your personal world has been shattered, it very easy to isolate yourself. If care-givers or friends do not take positive steps in the early stages of grief, then the sufferer needs no assistance in perceiving that he or she is on their own in their hurt and that no one really cares about them and their loss. They assume that the safe thing to do is to withdraw.
Withdrawing to avoid suffering and pain
It is not unusual to desire to withdraw from people in order to avoid suffering further hurt.
When a grieving person is supersensitive, and reacts to the tactless behaviour of others by becoming self-pitiful, that person often begins to build fences for protection. These fences are built to keep out those perceived as being threatening and hurtful.
Care-givers and friends need to learn that they must be firm without being overbearing when dealing with withdrawn grieving people. They must be prepared to go out of their way and insist on helping the grieving person to be integrated into social circles once more. This takes much skill, understanding and patience, and cannot be achieved if the helper does not really know the grieving person. A care-giver should approach survivors of loss with immediate help instead of waiting until their cries of desperation are heard.
During early grief a grieving person really needs to talk.
If, when looking deeply into the eyes of a hurting person, you see high 'barbed-wire fences' erected, don't give in, you are viewing symbols of appeals for help. Pray to the divine Physician for help to find ways to get through those fences into the home paddock of the person's heart to win their trust and the human treasure of love and respect.
The Challenge of Agression
Care-givers must be prepared to face many challenges. One of the greatest challenges which has to be dealt with in healing relationships, is aggression. . . . especially with those who are grieving.
A grieving person's anger is often threatening and frightening to people who try to help
When repeated attempts to help are met with rebuffs, then it is quite common for the helper to back off. Thus the grieving person fragments his or her support system.
Withdrawal and or aggression, is not unusual behaviour for a husband and wife who have lost a child.
Because they hurt so badly they are often unable to render the usual support to each other.
Silence and Blaming are Weapons used on one another
Mostly they do not know what is happening to them. In our society we receive an education in a wide variety of subjects that are considered essential to living. But during our education years, who teaches us how to handle grief and loss, and the things that are likely to happen to us when we are suffering?
Many marriage problems are the result of unresolved grief
Competent counsellors recognise this when dealing with marriage difficulties and generally take a careful history of losses at the outset of the counselling programme.
Positive aggressive grief intervention is really strong love in action
Positive aggressive grief intervention is early action, continuing action and non-fading support. Apart from the experience of loss through death, strong love in action is also necessary for people who have:-
Every hurtful thing that can happen to a human being needs positive aggressive intervention from a care-giver. There will be no closed doors to the hearts of the hurting if care-givers and friends can open channels of communication with them. Positive aggressive care is a key to grief recovery.