A young boy is close to his mother. He is five years old and she is thirty years old. She is in contact with her everyday of his life. He experiences her love in many forms. The way she calls him, the way she gives him shower, the way she feeds him conditions the boy to expect a certain kind of response from his mother. His senses of touch, smell, hearing and vision give input to his nervous system that produce certain physiological responses in his body. This response is mediated through his endocrine system, which, at the age of five years is not well developed. At this time in his life, he needs his mother. He is dependent on her for his survival.
Suppose his mother dies when he is ten years old and the mother was young, 35 years old. The boy is still dependent on the mother emotionally and physically. He is unable to comprehend where the mother has gone. He searches for his mother and she is nowhere to be found. But when he remembers her image, his body longs for the touch, the smell, the voice and the sight of her. He does not understand what death means. But he is confused. He feels sad and wants to cry. His father tells him that it is unmanly to cry. So he does not allow himself to remember his mother. Life goes on. He does not cry. Many years later, he becomes an adult. He is well placed financially and has a status in society.He has achieved everything that his mother wanted him to acheieve. He learns one day that the mother of his close friend has died. He then bursts into tears. He cries and cries and cries. His family members advise him to take medication as they feel he is depressed.
After his crying is over, he experiences a sudden sense of relief. He feels as if a load has been taken off his shoulders. His body has concluded his own grief of his mother.
In another scenario, the young man becomes a responsible adult. He achieves whatever he wants to achieve in life. He is self-sufficient. His mother is now an old lady. He still loves her. But he is no longer dependent on her emotionally, physically or financially. He also knows that if his mother was to die now, he would feel sad but that he would not be devastated. A few years later, his mother dies. He cries over the loss for a short period and then realises that his mother is happy where she is. His own life need to continue on its own without her physical presence.He is happy for her.
In the first case, the physiological grieving experience of the boy was blocked by his father. The father had conditioned him to believe that crying over his mother?s death was either not healthy or was an unacceptable activity. The boy?s body was at that time making an effort to undo the conditioning that he was physiologically used to experience in the presence of his mother. His whole life was consumed and emotionally frozen with his mother?s memories, till his friend?s mother died. At that time did he allow himself to ?unfreeze? his grief. When the nervous system experienced full expression of his emotions he felt ?relieved?.
In the second case, the young man had already grown out of the dependence on his mother when she died. He had become independent off her in many ways. His nervous and endocrine systems were allowed to experience grief in a natural manner. So the grief period was short. He never carried any emotional burden due to this loss.
The human body is conditioned in many ways. In relationships, our body and our subconscious mind get ?used to? the sounds, touch, sight and smell of another person. This is done through chemicals present in our bodies. Such emtional memories are mediated through neuropeptides. When we are in the presence of such a person a particular cocktail of neurotransmitters and hormones is produced. This forms a physiological identity of the other person in the body. When the person dies, then the sight of the dead person is helpful for concluding grief. But the ?physiological identity? of the dead person is mismatched because of the conditioning of the body to see the person alive. So the neuro-endocrine system goes into a turmoil. Crying is an integral part of this process. After the weeping activity is over, the body becomes emotionally and physiologically stable and calms down. Grieving is then over
Pradeep K Chadha is a psychiatrist who specialises in helping patients with meditation and imagery using little or no medication. He is the author of The Stress Barrier-Nature’s Way To Overcoming Stress published by Blackhall Publishing, Dublin. He is based in Dublin, Ireland.His website address is :http://www.drpkchadha.com
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