Posted by William on November 21, 2011
Even in its healthiest manifestations, grief is complex in nature. It often includes a variety of emotions, which may overlap at times, occur in sequence, cycles or waves. Here are some of the emotions and behaviors that are typically associated with grief:
A sense of numbness
Crying or sobbing
Change in appetite
Grief is seldom a linear process. One day you’ll feel fine; the next you may cry inconsolably over your loss. Or you may think you are completely recovered from grief until a holiday, birthday or anniversary dredges up loneliness once again.
Kenneth J. Doka, PhD., senior consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America, likens grief to a roller coaster that you never fully disembark. “(Grief) is full of downs and ups, lows and highs”.
One common misconception about grief is that it ends. “It is very, very normal and very, very natural to revisit elements of grief at various points throughout your life,” Doka says. “Mostly, you’ve learned to live with the loss, but there might be times when the grief flares up again.” Significant events, such as a wedding, can bring back feelings of grief when you realize that your loved one did not live long enough to enjoy the occasion.
Experts agree that it is important to let yourself cry over your loss, no matter how much time has passed. Sobbing promotes the release of tension and sorrow; it is one of nature’s ways of cleansing and healing.
The terms “grief” and “bereavement” are often used interchangeably. But some experts draw an important distinction. Bereavement is usually characterized by feelings of rage; someone who belonged to you left or was ripped out of your life, and you got gypped. Whether you experience bereavement depends on the sort of relationship you had with the person who died, says hospice leader N. Michael Murphy, MD., author of “The Wisdom of Dying: Practices for Living” (Element Books, 1999). “If you had a very gluey kind of relationship, that can almost guarantee a difficult bereavement,” Murphy says. In order to work through bereavement and enter into the healthy state of grief, he says, you must “let go” of the deceased and realize that no human being “belongs” to another.
Grief and children
Children tend to express their grief along a developmental continuum. A 3-year-old who has lost his mother may experience fearfulness, loss of speech, excessive crying, developmental delay, and sleep disturbances. A preschooler in the same situation might have temper tantrums, nightmares, and hyperactivity. Grieving school-age children may suffer academically owing to fatigue, resistance to attending school, a lack of motivation, or an inability to concentrate. In some cases, bereaved children start to lie or steal. After losing someone they love, children may develop physical symptoms, such as abdominal pain, constipation, or headaches.
It is easy to eat poorly and otherwise neglect your health during your grieving period. Nonetheless, it is important to maintain a healthy diet during this difficult time. It is also important to get adequate rest and exercise. Paying attention to your own health sets a good example for your children and helps you stay strong mentally and physically so you can support them emotionally.
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