Once again I am coming back from a blogging break with a “bang” and a deep subject, but it’s what is on my mind.
Unprocessed grief can result in many things. These are some.
Please note: in several of these categories, unprocessed grief is not the ONLY cause of these conditions!!!! It may be caused by other things, too.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. When a person gets stuck in unresolved grief, often there is an element of lack of control. The person could not control the circumstances of loss, so they begin to try to control everything around them. Alternatively, some are so devastated by grief and the unfair rejection of others that their compulsions begin to control them. They feel if they could only “do it right,” things would be better. So they are compelled to keep trying to “do it right.” Sometimes it is a mixture of these, & sometimes OCD has other elements as well.
- Hoarding. Since this is an “acceptable” addiction, it is one people may be tempted to do if they keep themselves away from alcohol or such. Shopping may temporarily relieve sadness, guilt (false or real), and other effects of unprocessed grief. A person may even gather trash around them because they feel they are trash. They may allow possessions to take over their homes to “protect” themselves from others or to comfort them from loss.
- Overeating. When a child or adult is not allowed to express disappointment, to share sadness, to speak the truth about abuse done to them (which then this often causes false guilt in the victim), they may eat to feel better. This category especially has many other causes (illnesses, metabolism, heredity, even environmental toxins I believe), but grief can cause it, too.
- Other mental illnesses. So many people have no one in their lives patient enough to help them through grief, validate, not minimize, and a big one—help them heal from the hurts. Particularly where hurts were caused by other people, the victim needs new friends to counteract the hurt, to speak the truth, to love them with kindness and gentleness and patience.
Let people express their sadness. (I don’t mean whining over their coffee order being served incorrectly. I also don’t mean letting them manipulate you.) Listen and validate the unfairness of the situation. Help them grieve losses.
With children, it can be even more tricky because their grief might pop up unexpectedly. Some tantrums are just selfish. Others might be like this: their pet dies, and the child cries a little but still feels sad or angry.
This feeling grows inside (especially if an adult tells them, “Don’t cry.”) They go to the store and want a toy. Mom says no to toy. The anger from losing a pet rises up, and the child throws a tantrum. Mom thinks it’s just a selfish kid wanting a toy, but it’s really the overflow from the unresolved grief of losing a beloved pet.
Grieve well, let others grieve well.
Christa Upton Black Hills Picture Books Edgemont, SD 57735