Dr. Heidi Clears the Air

The death of a child or sibling understandably turns ones world upside down, plunging them into the dark depths of grief.? It has been my experience that the age of the person that died and their relationship to the survivor makes a significant difference in how one copes.? Six months is a very short period of time following the death of a child or sibling, and it is normal that one would still be mourning this kind of loss.? Therefore, we were perplexed to see that a recent article in the Chicago Tribune found that most people?s anguish eases after six months, as that has not been my experience.?

However, in looking closer at this article, one of the most important things about the original JAMA study was that the vast majority of participants were spouses of the deceased-83.8% to be exact.? These findings cannot be generalizable to those who have lost a child or sibling.? Losing a spouse to cancer is very different then watching your 5 yr. old daughter or sister die from cancer.?? You cannot compare the two deaths, they are just too different.?

Further, it is absolutely ludicrous to infer that there is something wrong with someone that continues to grieve the death of their child or sibling after 6 months.? In fact I would go so far to add, that in my personal and professional experience continuing to mourn 6 mos. after the death of a child or sibling is completely normal.? We still hurt because we loved so much.? Grief cannot be broken down into neat easy stages that we must somehow quickly master and get through.? Grief comes and goes in waves, it ebbs and flows, and it?s is very normal to experience a variety of feelings, which overtime will lessen.? However, everyone is on their own grief journey, and it?s dangerous to place time limits on this process.? It can take a long time to work through the death of someone that you thought was always going to be in your life.?

?The important thing is to look for others further along in the grief process for guidance and strength, so that you will know you?re not alone.

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