At the onset of grief, a survivor needs nurturing support through the comforts and love found within their intimate circle of family and longtime friends. The survivor’s vulnerable state of mind, soul, and weakened personal and physical strength damage their ability to discern good from evil intentions toward them, and exposes them to manipulations that they would otherwise be able to recognize and resist. These are precisely the reasons why survivors are counseled to delay any financial or life altering decisions, if possible, to a later time. Preferably, that time will be when they have recovered their organizational gifts, powers of discernment, and customary levels of functionality.
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A grief-stricken person is unable to function at their usual 100% capability. It is therefore wise to postpone major decisions at this time. Selling a home, moving to another city, or changing jobs or professions, are all better put off to some later date if possible. (Mourning Light I, 2016)
Assuming the survivor’s network of family and longtime friends is comprised of willing and functional supporters; the most effective support and assistance will be offered and found within this group. By virtue of their shared history, this group will intuitively understand the survivor’s unspoken needs and provide a more personal level of assistance than any other outside source. Moreover, their assistance will be blanketed in love and deep concern for the survivor. If, however, the survivor’s intimate circle of family and longtime friends is inaccessible, dysfunctional, or untrustworthy, a support group would be an option to explore.
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Support group meetings offer access to others who have previously experienced the survivor’s current ailment, or who are themselves, in the throes of the same experience. It provides for those who are seeking support outside of their intimate circle of family and friends, or in numbers. It should be spearheaded by persons educated in effective recovery techniques and strategies.
Nurturing support and understanding are generally the only forms of assistance needed by survivors as only 10% to 20% of mourners will suffer complicated grief. Nurturing support and understanding are most often found in those who personally know and love the survivor. By virtue of their shared history, family members and lifelong friends will be the survivor’s most effective, caring, and nurturing supporters. If, however, the survivor finds that access to his/her family and friends is limited, or that they or the survivor are unwilling to engage, a support group would be a viable option. (Mourning Light III, 2019)
It is important to distinguish between caring love and support from counseling or professional intervention. Although a survivor may benefit from counseling at the onset of grief, until he/she has entered the dangerous waters of complicated grief, they should be able to recover without licensed counseling or professional intervention.
Complicated grief is a condition whereby the survivor may be affected physically, mentally, and/or socially. Without appropriate treatment, complications may include depression, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, anxiety (including PTSD), significant sleep disturbances, increased risk of physical illness (including, but not limited to heart disease, cancer, or high blood pressure), long-term difficulty with daily living (including self-care, personal or professional relationships, as well as work responsibilities), self-medicating (including alcohol, nicotine use, over the counter or prescription drug misuse, or illegal substance misuse), or severe eating, anger management, or behavioral disorders. Friends and family are not at all equipped to handle these issues. These issues necessitate the hasty intervention of licensed professionals. If left untreated by the properly licensed professionals, these issues may lead to the survivor’s death.
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LOVING SUPPORT REMAINS VITAL
The confusion in assessing our needs for recovery often lies when we do not recognize normal from abnormal signs and symptoms of grief. Additionally, survivors may not possess successful recovery strategies and techniques.
Most survivors (80% to 90%) will recover from grief without the assistance of professional counseling or intervention therapists. However, for those suffering mental illness or diminished mental capacity, successful recovery strategies may be very illusive. Likewise, persons suffering abnormal levels of stress, isolation, and/or other stifling situations, grief becomes overwhelming and recovery fleeting. In such scenarios, complicated grief will most likely materialize. With the onset of complicated grief, the need for professional intervention becomes necessary.
Those capable of knowing the innermost feelings, weaknesses, strengths, and fears of the survivor remain their close friends and family members. At this juncture, however, it will most likely be that professional therapists and medical physicians are more able to understand the medical or psychological recovery needs of the survivor.
When professional assistance is required, support from loving friends and family remains paramount. The survivor shrouded in the nightmare of complicated grief should realize a smoother, more profound transition to recovery when along with treatment, they are blanketed with love and support from their intimate circle of family and lifelong friends. This intimate support promotes confidence and assists the survivor in drawing upon his/her strengths to work in concert with his/her physicians, therapists, and counselors. It also provides encouragement and power for the survivor to maintain the medical therapies and recovery strategies necessary to realize peace on a more permanent basis. (Mourning Light III, 2019)
One might wonder how to know when support group should give way to professional and medical care. The following Grief Brief helps answer this question.
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SUPPORT GROUP OR PROFESSIONAL INTERVENTION
Support groups operate on the concept that mourners will receive appropriate recovery strategies that they may utilize as needed from an experienced facilitator, as well as support from others experiencing the same sort of trials within the group. The facilitator will present recovery strategies to the group allowing the individual mourners to ingest and apply them to his/her life in an appropriate fashion. Participants within the group are generally allowed to share experiences on the effectiveness of the strategies as they are utilized. Support groups do not usually provide the personal insight or care found within the intimate circles of family and friends. They offer a wide brushstroke of concepts allowing participants to choose what will or will not work for them based on their personal issues, experiences, and personality.
If maladaptive recovery strategies block healing and recovery, grief counselors and/or licensed therapists should be immediately engaged. Survivors displaying maladaptive strategies or dangerous behaviors are not equipped to conquer the battles of grief without professional intervention. Allowing these behaviors to continue will prolong their suffering and could result in death. (Mourning Light III, 2019)
Grief is an intimate ailment of the soul. Without recovery, a survivor’s will and ability to continue living are severely compromised. Survivors must find and restore their soul’s inner peace. They must be at liberty to explore and utilize all recovery assistance methods available.
If you are suffering grief beyond your ability to recover, please seek assistance from others. Sometimes that assistance is found from those close to you, who love and support you. Sometimes, however, professional assistance is called for. If you find that you are unable to accomplish recovery on your own, or with the assistance from your intimate circle of family and friends, or if you feel that you might benefit from professional guidance, please reach out immediately for professional assistance. Doing so may be the answer to recovering your inner peace, your ability to continue living, and most importantly, the healing of your soul.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, Podcaster, and founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, Podcasts, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, please visit my podcast “Deadline” at https://open.spotify.com/show/7MHPy4ctu9OLvdp2JzQsAA or at https://anchor.fm/tracy874 and follow me on Instagram at “Deadline_TracyLee”.