Guest Editorial: Get grief right

Guest Editorial: Get grief right

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a guest viewpoint from Sharon Whitley

There is an unspoken rule about grief and loss:

"We don't talk about that. Move on." Timothy Shriver said, "If you get grief wrong, you get a lot of things wrong."

So, how do we get grief right?

Elizabeth Kubler Ross suggested that there are stages of grieving, and each person must work through them at his own pace.

Initially, denial insulates us. The letters in the word, however, spell out the phrase, "Don't even notice I am lying."

The longer we linger in denial, the more we postpone a healthy resolution to letting go.

Bargaining involves attempts to cut a deal, promising to stop or start doing something differently in order to avoid loss. When that stage doesn't yield positive results, we experience anger, which can range from mild irritability to volatile rage.

Most of us can't tolerate that within ourselves, so we stuff anger, which results in depression.

That could mean changes in sleep, appetite, energy, concentration, memory, sex drive, and interests. At times, it becomes so severe that thoughts about or plans for suicide emerge.

We may cycle through denial, bargaining, anger, and depression several times before reaching the healthy destination of acceptance. That doesn't mean we celebrate the loss. It means we acknowledge that it has occurred.

Talking about grief requires vulnerability, and many of us equate that with weakness. What a lie! Don't believe it! The only way out is through.

Telling a supportive, non-judgmental person how you feel can bring the compassionate validation that this terrible thing was not supposed to happen to you.

Sometimes, grief alters the brain's chemistry, requiring medication for a short time to stabilize your mood.

Whether a death, the loss of a relationship or job, the inability to perform a valuable task, or some other "ouch" has you discouraged, reach out.

Ask for help. Get grief right!