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What I Learned About Resilience in the Midst of Grief

Rituals Are Important

Participating in rituals returns a feeling of control to the bereaved, and people who practice rituals are reported to be feeling lower levels of grief.

Even small acts that make us think of the departed soul, like wearing their jewelry, or making their favorite dish in loving memory, keep the 'love communication' alive. We need to know that even when someone is gone, it is okay to keep loving and remembering them.

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What I Learned About Resilience in the Midst of Grief

What I Learned About Resilience in the Midst of Grief

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_i_learned_about_resilience_in_the_midst_of_grief

greatergood.berkeley.edu

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Key Ideas

Losing a Loved One

Extreme grief, like losing a loved one is normally handled by an individual's support group of friends and family in stereotypical ways.

There seems to be a 'support gap' in which positive emotions like hope, gratitude, kindness, bravery, and resilience hardly find any mention during the grieving period.

Choose Life

The key is to choose life, and not lose the ones we have, to what we have already lost.

Accepting the good and deciding to shift towards life during matters of death is an effective psychological technique, which is referred to as 'benefit finding'.

Resilient People

Studies after the 9/11 terror attacks showed that experiencing positive emotions created a buffer against depression. Resilient people can work out ways to include hope, love, humor, pride, inspiration, serenity into their lives.

We all can use nature therapy, inspirational movies, and books, music, and sports to fuel our positive beliefs and emotions.

Rituals Are Important

Participating in rituals returns a feeling of control to the bereaved, and people who practice rituals are reported to be feeling lower levels of grief.

Even small acts that make us think of the departed soul, like wearing their jewelry, or making their favorite dish in loving memory, keep the 'love communication' alive. We need to know that even when someone is gone, it is okay to keep loving and remembering them.

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The journey through suffering

The five stages of grief are described as anger, bargaining, denial, depression, and acceptance. Yet, when a tragedy strike, we already know how bad things are. What is most needed is hope.

Suffering as part of life

We live in an age where many feel that they are entitled to a perfect life. But at some stage, everyone will face a tragedy.

When tough times do come, resilient people seem to recognize that suffering is part of every human life. Understanding this stops you from feeling discriminated against when trouble comes.

Directing your attention

Resilient people typically manage to focus on the things they can change and accept the things they can't.

Don't get swallowed up by your troubles. Don't lose what you still have to what you have lost.

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The shared rituals and their importance
The shared rituals and their importance

Rituals give us a feeling of going beyond the ordinary, of turning events into something special and meaningful. And shared rituals are essential to humanity, as they provide us all with a sens...

Adapting shared rituals

While going through difficult times, we are all losing, more or less, the shared rituals we used to have with others. But that is not actually such a bad thing.

Instead of thinking about what was lost, we could think about what we still have and figure out ways to make the most of the time spent at home, like staying more with our family or getting in touch again with old friends by calling them.

Making new rituals

It’s not that difficult to create rituals online. Focus on:

  • Asking people to bring to their online gathering something symbolic to share, to create a sense of connectedness.
  • Marking the moment as something special by having someone provide an opening statement.
  • Creating emotional highs by using music or something else with high emotional resonance to augment the experience.
  • Having a distinct ending that includes an emotional peak, because people tend to remember an event better that way.
Feelings are summary judgments

Most of the time we don’t second guess them, and even if we do, they often end up overwhelming us. 

Negative feelings are very powerful and harder to question: we identify with them effo...

Misunderstanding resilience

Resilience is most times associated with being tough. But that’s not gonna get you very far with feelings. Don't try to be invulnerable. Aim for flexibility instead.

You cannot avoid or resist all pain in life. But you can learn to live with your discomfort better.

"Solving" emotions

We have trouble dealing with feelings because the usual problem-solving rules don't really apply to them.

When faced with a problem, we can always avoid it or deny it. But attempting to resist negative feelings won’t work. Any attempt at suppression only amplifies them. We must go from avoidance to acceptance.

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The paradox of resilience

To overcome adversity, you must rescue yourself first. Your mindset, not the event, defines if you will be ‘rescued’ or not.

Resilience is less about who you are and more about how you thi...

Resilience Principles
  • Challenge: Resilient people turn difficulty into a challenge. They don't fight against reality, they confront it. 
  • Commitment: Having something to fight for gives you extra motivation. 
  • Self-Control: Free will is the realization that you own your actions and control your reactions. 
Build a First Responder Mindset
  • Reframe your thoughts about reality: You can’t control reality, but you can manage how you adapt to it.
  • Prepare for the worst: You can’t train to deal with every possible situation, but you can prepare your mind to adapt to unexpected ones.
  • Create alternative paths: Creativity plays a critical role in overcoming adversity.
  • Leverage the power of relationships: Rescuing yourself from adversity starts with you but strong relationships are critical for bouncing back.
  • Mind your spirit: Religious and spiritual support bring us comfort during adversity.
False positivity

We are caught up in a rigid culture that values positivity.

However, when we put aside our difficult emotions in order to embrace dishonest positivity, we fail to discover skills that can hel...

Tough emotions are essential for living

How we deal with our emotions affects how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead.

We should not view our emotions as good or bad, positive or negative. We need our emotions for real resilience.

Moving Beyond Emotional Rigidity

When we go through tough situations, we cannot ignore our negative emotions with the hope that they don't matter.

Write down what you are truly feeling in a personal notebook. Move beyond the rigidity of denial.

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Anticipatory grief
Anticipatory grief

Conventional grief, the kind of grief that occurs after the loss of a loved one, or even loss of one’s dreams, is commonly discussed and understood.

Anticipatory grief is a lesser-known...

A Cauldron Of Emotions

Grief involves anger and loss of emotional control, often a state of confusion.

Anticipatory grief, for those who experience it, is sometimes even more severe and stressful. It does not lessen the burden of actual grief after the loss has been experienced, and is not a substitute for it..

Purpose of Anticipatory Grief

Anticipatory grief is a chance of closure and personal growth which comes at the end of life. It is a chance to reconcile differences and heal the heart with forgiveness.

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Experiencing Grief
Experiencing Grief

Everyone has to experience grief at some point in life. It is an evolutionary trait that is present in mammals in general.

There seems to be a certain purpose for this int...

The Five Stages Of Grief

The stages of coming in terms with grief are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

These widely accepted stages are considered rigid and obsolete as modern psychologists update the understanding of grief.

The Attachment Theory

It focuses on the psychological connectedness of grief, looking at the quality of bondings that are made during the course of our lives.

Grief, and even the behaviour of babies in the absence of parents suggests it is not just a mental experience, but has physiological effects, like raising the level of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies.

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Human Behaviour During Crises

Human beings may seem selfish and illogical during times of crisis, but there is evidence that disasters and crises bring out the best in us.

There are reports and sightings of people from d...

Old Assumptions About Human Behaviour

Studying the natural disasters of the past, sociologists agree that while news reports lean towards the negative, a vast majority of people, good samaritans, doctors, nurses, government servants stay calm and help to the best of their abilities. While there can be panic and fear, caring for the other becomes common.

Economists and politicians often have views based on logical projection and past data, but human beings are an evolving race, and many assumptions now need to be overhauled.

Bad Times Are Good

A crisis helps draw awareness towards our fellow human beings, with our starting to embrace dependency, community, and solidarity, something not visible in normal circumstances.

Though we have to keep a physical distance in these strange times, we embrace each other more warmly.

The value of complaining
The value of complaining

As important and healing as gratitude is, we can't be grateful all the time. There is a time when we also have to make room for complaints.

For weeks, we've been going through p...

Complaining is better with others
  • Make space for other people to vent aloud. They know that they are powerless, and they have to accept the situation. Venting gives them the illusion that they are in control.
  • Have a little competition with your best complaints.
  • Create a house chart of complaints where your kids can let out their own.
  • Avoid complaining mistakes (such as: getting carried away by anger, firing too many complaints at a time or thinking that complaining alone will save us from our problems).
Nightmares

Nightmares are broadly defined as frightening dreams that result in some degree of awakening from sleep. 

Nightmares themselves contribute to disrupted sleep not only by waking th...

Night terrors

Night terrors are very intense episodes of fright during dreams. These frightening episodes are often accompanied by screaming or yelling, as well as by physical movement such as leaping out of bed or flailing in panic. 

Research suggests that sleep terrors occur during non-REM sleep dreaming, while nightmares tend to happen during REM sleep. 

Recurring dreams
Recurring dreams are dreams that re-appear with some pattern of regularity. 

Studies suggest that recurring dreams may contain more threatening content than regular dreams. Research suggests links between recurring dreams and psychological distress in both adults and children.

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