Friday, May 24, 2024

Accepting and living positively with grief

Since bereavement or loss are integral aspects of human life that cannot be prevented, people need to come up with coping strategies and continue to live satisfying lifestyles.

As the coping strategies may enhance or hinder mental healing, it becomes imperative to accept and live positively with grief whether from death or loss to ultimately promote the healing process.

Although the lapse of time and emotional support have been identified as some of the most important factors facilitating healing, cultural processes endowed in botho can act as the supplementary or guiding components. In all respects, this should be in conformity with the Vision 2016 goals of a “Just, Compassionate and Caring nation”.

According to University of Botswana (UB) Department of Educational Foundations Counseling and Human Services, Dr. Sithandazile Msimanga, “Anyone can experience grief during one’s lifetime in response to the loss of family members, nuptial partners, health, jobs or items of intrinsic value. No matter how the loss occurs, expected or sudden, grief forms the baseline and natural response. However, loss and grief can be categorized as individual, and not as ‘one size fits all’, dictated by socialization, individual’s culture or belief systems as well as a plethora or other factors known to the individual.”

Speaking to Life Style in Gaborone last week, Msimanga said bereavement from death is a necessary and inevitable phenomenon occurring from cessation of all bodily functions. Persons afflicted experience psychological trauma, excruciating pain, poignancy or extreme feelings of emptiness.

Likewise, feelings of emptiness can be experienced following the loss of valued or highly esteemed items. Grieving people need the emotional support of significant others, especially close family and friends to heal from their losses.

The healing process from bereavement requires the consolation of mediators of mourning who have worked through and accepted their own grief and losses, and equipped with the relevant conciliatory disciplines, to be effective. Mediators should journal their experiences, helping them to determine progress and showing how far they have come and grown from their pain or loss.

Some common behaviours grieving persons display involve sleep disturbances, insomnia, loss of appetite, absent mindedness, social withdrawal, nightmares or dreams of the deceased, avoiding reminders (of the deceased), restless hyper-activity and inconsolable weeping.

She stressed: “We can be able to attend to others experiencing grief only if we have attended to our own experiences and come to terms with them as counselors, religious ministers or ordinary people. When confronted with the most common reactions from the grief stricken, counselors should exercise caution to what appears to out of the ordinary.

To console a grieved person, make a phone call, attend the funeral and where possible provide foodstuffs such as light snacks or confectionary, without letting discomfort, anxiety or uncertainty stand in the way. Where practical help is required, decide on and offer a task you can readily accomplish.

“Accept the words and feelings expressed, avoiding being judgmental, taking feelings personally or telling them how they should feel or what they should do. Be a good listener because the majority when confronted with grief need to talk about their loss; the deceased, related events and their reactions,” said Msimanga. “Exercise extreme patience and caution, allowing grievers to tell their stories, express their feelings and permission to grieve for as long or short a time necessary for the healing process. Make it clear there is no sense in urgency when you pay a visit or talk but also remembering there are no shortcuts.”

She encouraged bereaved people to postpone major decisions, attend physical needs, such as eating meals, bathing and grooming to look presentable as a way of speed recovery. She said it is important to maintain a realistic and positive perspective, maintain responsibilities and seek help when overwhelmed or do not know how to handle the situation. However, she warned against the use of drugs or tranquilizers.

“Face up to your grief with a sober mind. Drugs tend to mask pain, which only resurfaces whey they wear off.”

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