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Mike Riehls

The heavy heartedness of grief


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October 31, 2013
Q. There is immense sadness surrounding me now as my dearest friend has recently died. Is this sad feeling normal?



A. Grief has many different stages. Sadness is one of them. I empathize with you in the midst of grief. There are several stages of grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote of the five stages of grief. The stages are denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. Shock is also part of grief as well as social isolation. Everyone experiences grief in their own way and for a variety of reasons. Your friend’s death might be triggering previous deaths you have experienced. Multiple life stressors you might be experiencing, can also complicate grief.


The bond you shared with the deceased, the current void you are experiencing can leave us with tremendous heartache and pain.

Q. I think I am stuck in the sadness stage of grief. I am disappointed my husband and friends are not there for me. I cannot understand how everyone gets back to their daily routine. No one asks how I am doing.

A. We are unlike most cultures in terms of grief. Other cultures have customs for coping with death, such as wearing black for two years. Black clothing reminds others of our grief. It seems your suffering feels prolonged and worse with minimal support.

We will never change how others cope, but you can be proactive and seek out a grief and loss support group or surround yourself with those who do provide you with support.

Psychotherapy with a therapist who specializes in grief and loss is also beneficial. In time, you will move through the process of grief and the heavy heart will dissipate. It may never go away completely as you will still have triggers that remind you, but appropriate support will help.

Q. My sadness is compounded with guilt, as I did not get to say goodbye. I find myself isolating as others want to compare their losses to mine. It makes me angry as they do not know how I feel. How do I cope with this?

A. Kindly tell them everyone grieves differently. Be mindful of your coping techniques. Without help, many cope in maladaptive ways, i.e., acting out, excessive alcohol intake.

There are so many forms of grief, depending on your relationship to the deceased. All these things complicate grief. Support groups and therapy can be very helpful. “Healing After Loss” by Hickman is a comforting book to move through grief.

Ruhana teaches at Wayne State University and has a private practice in St. Clair Shores. She can be reached at (586) 801-4701.

The Family Center serves as the community’s hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. It is a non-profit organization founded to promote a deeper understanding of the role of parents and others in supporting the community’s youth.

The Family Center of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods is a non-profit organization.

All gifts are tax deductible.

To volunteer or contribute, visit familycenterweb.org or call (313) 432-3832.

E-mail: info@family

centerweb.org or write to: The Family Center, 20090 Morningside Dr., Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.


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