This is the third week for us to walk through the stages of grief that we will all experience when someone close to us dies. So far I have touched on Shock & Disbelief, Emotional Release and Depression. The fourth stage that we will go through is called Psychosomatic Illness. It is very common for us, after someone dies to develop symptoms that were suffered by a loved one in the early stage of an illness. Small aches and pains that we have had a hundred times before bring on new responses in the back of our minds. It is common to experience Depression and Psychosomatic Illness at the same time. It is important in this stage to recognize that your symptoms may be real and you should not always pass them off.
Number five is Guilt. This is a huge stage and it is the one that many people get stuck in…remember when I talked about a “bad grief cycle”? We live in a guilt ridden society. I can sit at my desk on any given day and find something to feel guilty about. A few years ago I facilitated a Widows and Widowers Group and the guilt that I heard about more than any other was “I wasn’t there when my spouse died”. I remember one lady saying that she was driving into town and met an ambulance heading toward the village that she lived in. It gave her a funny feeling, but she kept going on into town. The ambulance, as it turned out was for her husband. I felt just as much at a loss for words then as I do now. I wanted to tell her that there was no way for her to have known, but she already knew that and it was of no consolation. Guilt is something that you may never totally recover from, and maybe the best you can do is to adapt your life around it.