Loss is hard enough, but when the environment won't or can't surround us in our loss with consistent comfort and useful resources, then it becomes even harder. There's a term being used in the bereavement literature called complicated mourning or traumatic grief reaction. These are often used interchangeably. In my experience virtually all loss experiences are complicated and traumatic to a certain degree. In any case, there are ways in which the natural grief process can get distorted, compromised, or even derailed, leaving the mourner with a prolonged high degree of emotional, psychological, physical, cognitive, behavioral, and spiritual pain. Such pain interferes with daily functioning in excessive ways. There are many ways in which western society has made the natural grieving process complicated. Here are some examples: urbanization, industrialization, deritualization, and family breakdown, poverty, violence, unemployment, and economic problems. The consequences of such changes include: increased feelings of social alienation and personal helplessness, drug and alcohol dependency, domestic violence, and growing divides between the haves and have-nots. All of these factors have an undeniable and dramatic impact on today's mourner. When a society is beset with such rapid social changes, it is virtually impossible for coherent and solid resources to be put in place for those in mourning. Therefore, in many cases we are challenged to find and create these resources for ourselves. Despite feelings of helplessness, we are not really helpless. We can find sources of social support. There are many excellent settings designed to provide the quality environment mourners need to get the natural grieving back on track. Genuine concern and caring are available, but we have to find them.
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