“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.” Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)
I turned to Hospice when I knew my parents were going to die. They were very compassionate and helped me better understand the process of dying, as well as the emotions that I would experience after their death. I read everything that I could possibly read to learn what I was about to witness with the dying process of my parents, in hoping that it would soften the pain that I knew I would experience. It was during this time that I also read an article written by Rev. Howard R. Gorle that in my opinion best describes Grief. He wrote that no amount of knowledge can prepare us for bereavement. Grief is the most intense and enduring emotion we can experience. No quick fix. No short-cut. Knowledge of the grief process gives us a generalized map of the terrain we have to cover. Each of us will take a different route. We will choose our own landmarks. We will travel at our own unique speed and will navigate using the tools provided by our culture, experience, and faith. In the end, you will be forever changed by your journey.
He also said that knowledge helps us avoid the major pitfalls of grief. Knowledge of what is known of grief assures us that we have not lost all sense of sanity. When we find ourselves feeling befuddled in a mist shrouded swamp we can say “It’s OK. This too is part of my journey. Others have gone this way before me and I will survive. I am human.”
Several blueprints or theories about grief have been proposed. Sigmund Freud began with the concept of having to do ’grief work’. That is, a specific job should be finished before the next job begins. Stages of grief theories abound. Depending on the writer, there are 4 to 12 stages of grief – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Also, depending on the writer, grief has been described in terms of phases. For example there are 4 tasks of mourning: Accepting the reality of the loss, experiencing the pain, adjusting to a life without your loved one and finally being able to invest your emotional energy into a new life.
Grief has been an ongoing journey for me. It first started with the loss of my brother when I was 15 years of age. Second, was the caring of my parents, whom were both diagosed with Alzheimer’s at the same time and died 36 days apart of each other. I’m very much aware that I’m still grieving and now I face the reality of my husband’s rare cancer – Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. There are many days I can’t catch my breath and turn to God to give me the strength and courage to breathe, because I know that my husband needs me. Each day, my Lord answers my prayers.
Deborah Ann Tornillo