Grief is your emotional reaction to a significant loss. The words sorrow and heartache are often used to describe feelings of grief. Whether you lose a beloved person, animal, place, or object, or a valued way of life (such as your job, marriage, or good health), some level of grief will naturally follow.
Anticipatory grief is grief that strikes in advance of an impending loss. You may feel anticipatory grief for a loved one who is sick and dying. Similarly, both children and adults often feel the pain of losses brought on by an upcoming move or divorce. This anticipatory grief helps us prepare for such losses.
What is grieving?
Grieving is the process of emotional and life adjustment you go through after a loss. Grieving after a loved one’s death is also known as bereavement.
Grieving is a personal experience. Depending on who you are and the nature of your loss, your process of grieving will be different from another person’s experience. There is no “normal and expected” period of time for grieving. Some people adjust to a new life within several weeks or months. Others take a year or more, particularly when their daily life has been radically changed or their loss was traumatic and unexpected.
A group of scientists used fMRI scans to study the brains of people dealing with being rejected, and compared them to the brains of people experiencing physical pain. They found that the exact same regions of the brain are involved in processing both experiences. For humans, social rejection is tantamount to literal injury.
Write the authors in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
We tested this hypothesis by recruiting 40 individuals who felt intensely rejected as a result of recently experiencing an unwanted romantic relationship break-up. Participants performed two counterbalanced tasks during functional MRI (fMRI) scanning: a Social Rejection task and a Physical Pain task. Brieﬂy, the Social Rejection task compared Ex-partner trials, in which participants viewed a headshot of their former partner and thought about their speciﬁc rejection experience, and Friend trials, in which participants viewed a headshot of a friend who was the same sex as their ex-partner and thought about a recent positive experience they shared with that person. The Physical Pain task also consisted of two types of trials: Hot trials, in which participants experienced noxious thermal stimulation on their left forearm, and Warm trials, in which participants experienced nonnoxious thermal stimulation in the same area. Participants rated how they felt after each task trial using a ﬁve-point scale, with lower numbers reﬂecting more distress.
And indeed, they saw the same regions of the brain lighting up during both physical and mental tasks – specifically, “areas that support the sensory components of physical pain (secondary somatosensory cortex; dorsal posterior insula).” The researchers say that their work could shed light on why different kinds of social rejection can lead to physical pain and other ailments. Ultimately, they say, our brains reveal an intensely strong connection between emotions and physical sensations. An interesting area for future research would be whether witnessing somebody else’s distress also affects our brains the same way physical pain does – in other words, do we literally feel the pain of others?
Read the full scientific paper via PNAS
If for a moment God would forget that I am a rag doll and give me a scrap of life..
I would value things not for how much they are worth but rather for what they mean.
I would write my hatred on ice and wait for the sun to come out, with a dream of Van Gogh I would paint on the stars a poem by Benedetti, and a song by Serrat would be my serenade to the moon.
With my tears I would water the roses, to feel the pain of their thorns and the incarnated kiss of their petals…
I wouldn’t let a single day go by without saying to people I love, that I love them.
To a child I would give wings, but I would let him learn how to fly by himself.
To the old I would teach that death comes not with old age but with forgetting.
I have learned that everybody wants to live at the top of the mountain without realizing that true happiness lies in the way we climb the slope.
I have learned that when a newborn first squeezes his father’s finger in his tiny fist, he has caught him forever.
I have learned that a man only has the right to look down on another man when it is to help him to stand up.
The Puppet (excerpt)
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The holidays can be a very lonely time of year for anyone who, because of their uniqueness, finds himself or herself without family, and sometimes, friends. Sharing the time with others can be a salve for those who are tolerated or accepted. But for those of us who are unique, whether transsexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or suffering from some physical malady, and we find ourselves alone, it can be a challenge to just get through the holidays.
Families are defined by blood. Often, that is a mistake. Sometimes there are those relatives (by blood) whose views and outlooks would be offensive and cruel to any outsider — to any kind and compassionate soul. The challenge is to surround ourselves with a family we choose, who love us and accept us for who we are, rather than for what we are not.
If family during the holidays is defined by accepting only those people like themselves, then we have learned nothing about tolerance, acceptance, and compassion. Let us not make the same mistakes as those poor souls who live in fear of what they do not understand, and the resulting cruelty that manifests itself in the name of “family.”
What I would emphasize to all gender-variant individuals is that the holidays are NO TIME to be making major decisions about one’s life, one’s circumstances, one’s issues, or one’s family. Suicide is never good any time. But the holidays have a way of making us, what I like to call, “temporarily isolated” or “temporarily inconsolable.” The emphasis, though, should be on the word TEMPORARY.
During this tough economic time, many are suffering. And even in good economic times, during the holidays, there are so many people who find themselves spending the holiday alone, whether transgendered or not. And then there are those who do spend the holidays with their relatives and come back even more depressed and/or vulnerable than before they left.
Family and holidays can be very difficult even in the best of times. No matter what, whether spending holidays with friends and family, or spending them alone, I would recommend that no one make major life changing, irreversible decisions.
For those who find themselves depressed or alone during the holidays, the secret to success is to just get through them!
Survival is success!
The sun will come out tomorrow. There will be a chance for a new day and new beginnings. And hope does not take a raincheck during holidays. It is still there, even if it seems harder to grasp.
As you have doubtless heard many times before, even if you don’t feel like doing something, DO SOMETHING! A walk, a movie, reading a good book, or an activity. Invite another friend over for tea, or meet for a lunch or dinner. Some online support forums can be quite helpful during these times as well.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not a character flaw or a weakness to ask for help. On the contrary, it is one of the healthiest things a person can learn to do – knowing when to ask for help. This link http://gendersanctuary.com/resourceshelp.htm lists a number of resources that can be helpful during difficult times.
Make the time less about the holiday, and more about self-care.
But most of all, never use a temporary situation to make a permanent, unalterable decision. Never.
Hope and peace are always in season.
Loss –> Doubt –> Discomfort –> Discovery –> Understanding –> Integration
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting for the old, but on building the new.”
“As a comic, Billi Gordon used his girth to get laughs. Now it’s imprisoning him, but he plans a breakout.
“Billi Gordon is 6 feet 1 and weighed 701 pounds when he was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last month. Offering directions to his room, he couldn’t resist adding, “I will be the large black man in the hospital bed.”
“For most of his adult life, he has been that large black man, never denying his girth, using it to disarm and entertain, creating a theatrical comedy career — in drag — before pursuing research in neuroscience.”
“If we deny love that is given to us, if we refuse to give love because we fear pain or loss, then our lives will be empty, our loss greater.” – Anonymous
“The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to feel the pain.” – Jennifer Aniston
I’m in a reflective mood today. Perhaps even a bit nostalgic. You see, even therapists have real lives. I face the same things any other person faces: successes and failures, courage and fear, love and loss. We are all affected by the ebb and flow of life. None of us can or should escape from our feelings during changes in one’s life.
I have experienced a recent loss of a dear relative. I say this not to evoke sympathy, but to share the experience of love and loss. This individual was an accepting, loving person. Indeed, she was there for me when it seemed no one else was; when it seemed that there was no acceptance to be found, at one time in my life, even within myself.
She taught me a lot about acceptance of one’s self and one’s flaws. She conveyed important truths that though one may not understand why decisions are made and how, acceptance and love do not require that we understand all things. Acceptance and love require that we are okay with “not knowing” but being willing to let things unfold over time.
So often in life the drive for validation can be a terrible burden. It can derail relationships. It can create a distance or chasm between relationships that need not be there. Seeking validation from others can be a huge deception, because it puts an unfair burden on those who would want to love us anyway, and it keeps us from facing ourselves and growing into an acceptance of who we are.
The unrelenting drive for validation prevents one from being loved.
My aunt taught me that validation is not her job. That was my job. Her “job” was to be herself. Being able to accept one’s self enables you to love and accept others.
That was the lesson she taught by how she lived.
In the end, life is not how others value you, it is how you value yourself.
The most important lesson, the greatest challenge, with the sweetest reward.
RIP Aunt Pat.