“In the city, crime is taken as emblematic of class and race. In the suburbs though it’s intimate and psychological; resistant to generalization; a mystery of the individual’s soul.” ~ Barbara Ehrenreich.
We have been exploring relationships.
Emotional crime scenes are life events that were either traumatic, life-changing, or highly emotional. A crime scene is a place where a crime took place. Simple, but also quite complex.
Zoe is waiting for her dad to come visit. Her parents are divorced. He is late, again. She has been waiting for two hours. He finally arrives. He is drunk. Mother won’t let her get in the car with him. He drives off. Zoe is twelve and very upset at her mother. She tells her mother it is her fault, because she wasn’t nice enough to her father and that’s why he drinks.
Zoe starts smoking pot, having random sex, and moves in with her dad when she turns eighteen. She starts and stops college. When she is twenty-two she is arrested for a felony charge involving carrying drugs in her purse while working in a medical facility. Mother tried to help Zoe and Zoe wouldn’t let her near.
Divorce is a crime scene that is quite common. Parents frequently perpetuate and escalate marital problems long after the divorce decree has been handed down. A crime scene is a place in our history where we were harmed by what we saw, felt, or heard. If we don’t clear this out and understand what happened we will keep creatively making new crime scenes in our present day life.
“Violence is not merely killing another. It is violence when we use a sharp word, when we make a gesture to brush away a person, when we obey because there is fear. So violence isn’t merely organized butchery in the name of God, in the name of society or country. Violence is much more subtle, much deeper, and we are inquiring into the very depths of violence.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti.
When you were a child there were crimes committed in your presence. Mother was screaming, father was drunk, or your brother pummeled you on the back with his fist. You watched mother throw your baby brother down in his crib.
You saw dad slap your mother. You heard grandmother say your mother was stupid and worthless. You walked in when mother held a gun pointed at her face. You saw your father punch your brother in the face. Your brother walked in on dad having sex with the neighbor lady. Your brother’s best friend touched your genitals.
Your sister told you that you were retarded and she wouldn’t let you hang out with her and her friends. Dad died in the car accident last summer and you survived. Mom died of cancer and dad is missing somewhere inside his head.
We have been looking at the tough subject of loss and grief over the past couple of weeks. Some of you may wonder what loss and grief has to do with the Angst in Anxiety.
Grief, complicated grief, and traumatic grief are all intimately tied to anxiety and depression. In grief there are symptoms that look like generalized anxiety disorder, depression, and even obsessive-compulsive disorder. If the grief runs a normal course the person will return to a sense of balance.
In complicated and traumatic grief the situation is more difficult. We will address this in today’s blog. We will first finish our list of symptoms of grief, which we addressed in Part 4.
“How often–will it be for always?–How often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time. The first plunge of the knife into the flesh is felt again and again.” C.S. Lewis in A Grief Observed.
In today’s blog we will look at some additional theories about how we grieve. We will conclude in Part 4 and 5 with symptoms of grief and a discussion of traumatic loss and complicated grief.
The Stress and Crises Model of Grief
As the category suggests, this model of grief focuses on grief as a stress and a crises.
When a spouse dies this creates stress, as there are so many feelings to address and things to do. For many, life has changed in a major way following the death of a partner. In Joan Dideon’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking, she shows the way loss of a life partner is intricately woven into the everyday producing a myriad of new stresses.
There are a number of theories on how people grieve. A theory is not a fact, just a well thought through speculation on what something means. These theories address the universality of the grief process. Some of these theories have also been applied to the study on non-human animals such as chimpanzees and birds.
Sometimes it is helpful to look at different points of view on a subject. Ideally this will help you to see what area you might relate to the best.
Here are some theories on how we grieve:
“Every perturbation is a misery, but grief is a cruel torment, a domineering passion: as in Old Rome, when the Dictator was created, all inferior magistracies ceased, when grief appears, all other passions vanish.” ~ Robert Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy.
What Is Bereavement?
Bereavement is a noun that defines a condition of some type of loss. Bereavement is usually used to talk about being deprived of something or someone. The condition present during bereavement is that of grief. The bereaved are grieving a loss.
The word is most often seen as having a German origin meaning “to rob” or “to seize by violence.” As you can see, we move from loss to grief and into a condition of grieving known as bereavement. Bereavement can be the condition and state with death, dying, or silent losses such as a miscarriage or stillbirth. Bereavement can take place following surgeries such as mastectomies, bladder removal, or other major disfiguring or life-changing surgical procedures.
Loss, grief, and bereavement carry a heavy responsibility. These words will stare you down throughout a lifetime. These words know they have the upper hand. No one goes through a lifetime without some or a great deal of experience with loss and grief.
It serves all of us to understand what we mean by loss, grief and bereavement. By understanding the concepts, we are empowered with knowledge, and knowledge can lead to more compassion and understanding toward the self and the other.