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Author Topic: 9.01 | Grieving Mental Illness in a Loved One  (Read 310 times)
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« on: February 19, 2015, 07:35:22 AM »

PERSPECTIVES:  Grieving Mental Illness in a Loved One

Do you have a child or a family member or a spouse with a mental illness?

Are You Grieving? There is something going on within each of us and we may not be giving it the attention and recognition it deserves; we are grieving.

We often think of grieving as a process reserved for those who have experienced the death of a loved one --  grieving is a healthy and natural process that occurs in response to any significant loss regardless of what that loss is.

Grief Can Take a Toll on Us Early on in our journey of being a supporter or caretaker for someone who is mentally ill we felt initial relief to discover either through our own research or through a professional diagnoses that there is a name for our loved ones' struggle.  Most of us moved quickly into problem solving mode, looking for ways to help our loved one and paid little to no attention to what we are actually feeling.  As our journey continued and we learned more about this mental illness we begin to become exhausted, confused, frustrated, sad, angry, guilty, worried, lost, isolated, scared, ashamed, and many more emotions.  In short... .we are experiencing loss. When we feel loss, we are grieving.

When we fail to do grief work, acknowledge our feelings and the losses we experience, it can really take a toll on us and keep us "stuck". Consciously grieving is a positive experience that can renew our hope  and lead us to make positive choices for ourselves. As we begin to consciously grieve we are giving ourselves the opportunity to recover from our experience with mental illness as a caregiver and even as a sufferer. The grieving process is highly individualized and there is no set rules to comply with.  Unhealthy grieving occurs when we stay in the same stage with no movement for "too" long.  How long is too long depends on the individual and their unique circumstances.

Grief Recovery The upside is that the grief process has recognizable phases or stages, one of these stages is accepting or acceptance. As we become aware of the coping strategies we already have and begin to use them more effectively through consciously grieving we discover new skills, reduce our stress and boost our self esteem. We can find some peace and calm for ourselves and that is essential for each of us to be healthy.

There are 4 phases or stages of grieving:

Denial
Anger
Sadness
Acceptance/Accepting

Fear is usually present in the denial, anger and sadness stages of grieving.  Being afraid is a survival instinct.  Fears can be tamed by naming and claiming them as our own and allowing them to prompt us to make positive, necessary changes in our lives.

The acceptance stage is often referred to as the accepting stage because we may have to revisit this stage many times in our grieving journey.  As situations evolve and new losses are experienced we will need to work towards accepting these losses.

Workshop Objectives  The key discussion points around understanding the grieving process:

  • What stage or phase of grieving are you currently in?
  • What losses have you experienced in your life due to your mental illness experience?
  • How do you help yourself cope with your feelings?
  • Are there ways you use your experiences constructively?
  • Are you grieving in a healthy way?
  • What do you do with your fear?
  • Will you ever finish grieving?


* The focus of this workshop is on self and our personal thoughts, feelings, and grief process. Please be mindful of this in your replies.  It is important work that we each need to do for ourselves.

Thanks in advance for your participation and advice in this workshop.
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