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Acknowledging that Good Can Come from Grieving?

A family leaves the city for a well deserved holiday,realizing once on the plane that they left their 10 year old child at Home Alone!

Good Grief!

A woman with Alzheimer's turned on the microwave for 20 minutes with nothing in it while she was at Home Alone!

Good Grief!

Fortunately her spouse came home in time to turn off the microwave.

It is not unusual to exclaim Good Grief! when something bad or shocking occurs. This figure of speech can be considered a contradiction, though, since grief is most often viewed in a negative light. But, grief is not all bad.

Once you delve into the journey of grief processing, it can help you over time to feel better. The grief you experience from adversity and loss can be used as a powerful resource for personal transformation and growth. For instance, caregiving may be easier when you process the emotional reaction to the losses you experience from witnessing your close family member's progressive decline living with Alzheimer's disease.

There are many situational losses that stem from the initial loss of health from your family member's illness. Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th Ed . (2009) defines situational loss as "the loss of a person, thing or quality resulting from alteration of a life situation including changes related to illness, body image and death.”

Here is an excerpt from my book "Keeping It Together" describing the situational loss process and how your ability to cope can be swayed by acknowledging your losses and grief reaction to the losses.

Individuals with Alzheimer’s have not died. They are changing while still physically present. He or she

is here but not here. The awareness in the early stages may be different from one family to the next.

For instance, in some families, the adult children may be acknowledging the loss of a family member

to illness and bringing it to the attention of the parent who is living with the ill family member. The

contrary occurs too when the spouse acknowledges the loss but the adult children who are not living

with it don’t acknowledge it.

Acknowledging, assessing, assisting through situational loss can help you in raising awareness and

clarifying unclear losses. In other words, it can remove the ambiguity. It is difficult enough for you to be

experiencing loss. When your loss is not acknowledged by others (or yourself), it can deepen your


......The situational loss process begins by identifying the initial loss – the illness. Losses stemming from

the illness are identified as subsequent losses. There is a reaction that family care providers

experience to both the initial and subsequent situational losses that can impact on their well-being

and ability to provide care. Many of the losses include things and qualities related to what the

chronically ill person represented, and losses around the intangibles of the relationship. Have you lost

your decision-maker, adviser, bridge partner, cook due to the illness? Multiple unrelated losses may

also be occurring at the same time, such as having several family members who are ill or children

moving away to another country. Unresolved losses from the past may also resurface.

This book excerpt introduced you to the situational loss process by acknowledging the losses. From there comes awareness of the reaction to the losses. Reactions are unique to the individual, often a gamut of emotions. Anger, fear, frustration, guilt and loneliness are prominent emotions that family caregivers express but there are so many other emotions you may experience. These emotions can often get attributed to the care demands rather than your reaction to loss. However, it is advantageous to address the losses and grief. Some obtain relief just by acknowledging they are grieving while caregiving. There is an advantage in assessing the reaction and linking the emotions to a situational loss context so that you can validate your emotions and benefit from processing your emotions.

Although not easy, there are potential benefits in grief processing. The benefits may include relief, truth, comfort, restored hope and peace which can help make coping easier, You could call that Good Grief!

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