Dictionary.com defines grief as the “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss.” This is similar to bereavement, which is a period of mourning after a loss.
Both are to be expected after the diagnosis of or loss of a loved one to mesothelioma. It is critically important to know what to expect and how to deal with the emotions that accompany this difficult time.
What is Grief?
The emotions felt by someone grieving could run the gamut from numbness all the way to uncontrollable rage. These feelings can occur at various times both before and after the death of the loved one. For this reason, grief reactions are commonly divided into three categories: anticipatory, normal, and complicated.
For instance, mesothelioma survivor Jodi Page was diagnosed when she was just 26 years old. She has surpassed her original prognosis of 19 months. Jodi has been a pleural mesothelioma survivor for 17 years and counting.
When it comes to dealing with normal symptoms of grief, there are many routes that someone can take, the most important factor being that they center around releasing any pain or negative emotions the person may be dealing with.
Some common coping activities people undergo are:
Venting – Talking to friends or family about what you’re feeling is one of the most effective ways to validate your feelings.
Physical activity – Many people begin exercising or practicing a sport as a form of release for the stress that they feel while grieving.
Create – If you have difficulty expressing yourself verbally, drawing, painting, writing poetry, or simply listening to music that validates your feelings can work wonders.
While someone experiencing common grieving symptoms does not generally need formal help, it can be a great option for those struggling to handle what they are going through and those who might be dealing with complicated grief. A professional therapist can help the bereaved look at their situation from a new perspective or help them understand their feelings about their lost loved one.
Helping Children Cope
Children of all ages will feel distressed after a loss, however, older children will have many more questions. When these questions arise, it is especially important to address them and be as direct and honest as possible. Children have difficulty understanding euphemisms for death and it is generally not until age 12 that they understand it is a part of everyone’s life.
The most important part of grieving is for an individual to find an effective way to express what they are feeling so that their emotions are validated.
In a recent TED Talk, Aarti Patil, a student at the University of Texas at Arlington, gave a particularly moving speech about her experiences with the loss of her mother and how she has learned to live with them.
It can be especially helpful to talk to others going through the same experiences as you. Many hospitals offer support groups for those grieving the loss of a loved one. There are even mesothelioma-specific support groups that are available.