In his new film, Demolition, Jake Gyllenhaal portrays an investment banker who decides to wage destruction on the things in his life as a way of dealing with grief from the loss of his wife. Although psychologists say that there are five stages of grief anyone who has experienced significant loss will tell you that grief is a process without a definite time frame or pattern.
While there are stages of grief, they tend to vary depending on the individual. For your next research paper consider delving into the topic of grief.
What is grief?
Grief is a natural reaction to the loss of someone or something that is important to us. It could be loss of a loved one, a pet, or even a job. The loss doesn’t have to be due to death. Many feel a deep sense of grief after divorce, retirement or when children have grown up and move out on their own.
Julie Axelrod outlined “The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief,” for PsychCentral.com. These stages were developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. “The key to understanding the stages is not to feel like you must go through every one of them, in precise order. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at them as guides in the grieving process — it helps you understand and put into context where you are,” Axelrod explained.
How professionals view grief
In their book, Grief, Mourning, and Death Ritual, Jenny Hockey, Jeanne Katz and Neil Small focused on responses to death as they occur within the unique set of cultural, social and historical circumstances of our contemporary society.
The book does not just document and make sense of contemporary practices, but also critically reviews the ways grief, mourning and death ritual have been approached by academics and practitioners in the field.
In examining differing theories of grief, the authors referred to the work of John Bowlby who believed that the capacity for healthy grieving was shaped by childhood experience.
“The capacity for healthy grieving, according to Bowlby, was shaped by childhood experience. Specifically, it was shaped by the extent to which attachment behaviour had been regarded sympathetically as opposed to it being something to be grown out of as quickly as possible,” the authors stated.
Most people just need time and emotional support to help them deal with their grief. However, sometimes grief becomes too much for the individual and professional help is required.
In her September 28, 2013, article for PsychologyToday.com, “About Complicated Bereavement Disorder,” Deborah Khoshaba described the risks and symptoms of prolonged grief.
According to Khoshaba complicated grief is a chronic and heightened state of mourning that can exhibit symptoms such as:
- Intense longing for the deceased
- Numbness, detachment
- Trouble carrying out normal routines
A sense of hopelessness for the future prevents the complicated griever from moving through the grief process to find resolution. Therapy will be required.
The available therapies for complicated grief include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: changing irrational thoughts of grieving to decrease yearnings
- Exposure therapy: recognize people and events that do not include the deceased
- Meaning therapy: accommodating the loss through meanings that deepen and expand our understanding of life and yourself
Helping those in grief
It’s hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving. You will find some good ideas on “Supporting a Grieving Person” at HelpGuide.org.
Their tips for helping a grieving person include:
- Accept and acknowledge all feelings
- Be willing to sit in silence
- Let the bereaved talk about how his/her loved one died
- Offer comfort and reassurance without minimizing the loss
According to the article, “The most important thing you can do for a grieving person is to simply be there; your support and caring presence will help him or her cope with the pain and begin to heal.”
Learn more about research paper topics in psychology at Questia.
What strategies have you used successfully to deal with grief and loss? Tell us in the comments.