“Life is change. We undergo change, loss and grief from birth onward. Every venture from home, every move, every job or status change every loss of a person, pet, belief, every illness, every shift in life such as marriage, divorce, or retirement, and every, kind of personal growth and change may be cause for grief. These do what Elizabeth Kublerross calls the ‘little deaths of life’. Grief is in fact like a neighbor who always lives next door, no matter where or how we live, no matter how we try to move away. Whether we want to or not, every one of us has to learn to let go, to move forward without someone or something we wanted every much.
“Grief may result from any significant change or loss in our lives. Healthy grief. dramatic and even traumatic as it may be, is a three-stage process. First, it is fully experiencing and expressing all, the emotions and reactions to the toss. Second, it is completing and letting go of your attachment both to the deceased and to sorrow. Third, it is recovering and reinvesting anew in one s own life. For most of us that is a big order. Therefore, it takes courage to grieve.”
Tatelbaum discusses in detail the processes that will help us to grieve normally and successfully. She mentions in particular five special strengths that help us to face death or loss: 1) knowledge: becoming educated about grief 2) emotional maturity, which she defines as the willingness to acknowledge and cope with reality, to experience and express our feelings , 3) having a life purpose that sustains meaning in our lives, 4) having a support-system of people and activities that fill our lives and 5) having courage to face life’s difficulties.
Tatelbaum also discusses the negative effects and signs of incomplete or unsuccessful grief:
“Missing any of the steps in the grieving process may result in unhealthy or unsuccessful grief. Because these stages may take months, unsuccessful grief may not show up until long after the loss.
“The suppression of grief can incapacitate us by causing our emotions to be deadened or distorted, our relationships to suffer, and our functioning to be impaired. There are many signs of unsuccessful or inhibited grief. Sudden personality changes and progressive social isolation after a loss may signify unresolved grief. The bereaved may become apathetic or unusually contained and careful. (They) may control their feelings (to an extreme degree). Anxiety or fearfulness that persists much beyond the loss experience is another sign of unsuccessful grief.
“The other extreme - exaggerating or prolonging our grief years beyond the actual loss is also unhealthy. This occurs when we overidealize the deceased, or hang on to such feelings as sorrow or guilt, or fail to resume our lives fully after a loss. Hidden feelings, too painful to face, are often the underlying cause of prolonged grief. Sometimes our fears of life are harder to face than our grief, which by now is familiar.”
Tatel baum writes, “There are two major psychological tasks to be accomplished during the mourning period. The first is to acknowledge and accept the truth: that (loss) has occurred and that the relationship is now over. Whether we are aware of it or not, we pay an enormous price for inhibiting grief. Sometimes the price is a loss of our zest for living that may continue for months or even years.”