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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom: Beyond Acceptance: The Secret of Resilience


Thought for the Day: This week my thoughts have been focused on loss and resilience. When I am called to help out following a critical incident, the death or traumatic event triggers memories of other losses in all those touched by the event. When I speak with the human resource representatives and the staff at the company, I tell them to expect the incident to trigger memories of prior losses in all their staff, regardless of how close they were to the co-worker who has dies or been injured. Any unfinished grieving will enter their employees minds, making it hard to stay focused at work. I encourage people to come in and speak with me whether they think their issues are related to the event or not.

Often someone will come in to speak with me who is dealing with what is called complicated grief. Complicated grief happens when someone lost a love one over a year and a half prior to the current event, who is still deep in the throes of mourning. Usually, within a year or so after a loss, people have worked through the universal stages of grief, namely, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance proposed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. Surely, they are still sad that their loved one is no longer living, but they have moved on and have accepted the loss. With complicated grief, they feel depressed, may be crying sometimes for no reason or feeling that life is not worth living, even though there are many things they feel they should be happy about in their lives. They simply are unable to enjoy their lives. They seem to become stuck processing and reliving the pain and stuck in a grieving state.

As I reflected on this phenomenon, it led to the quote I am sharing today. I believe I may have discovered another stage of recovery from grief.
Like Maslow's stage of self actualization which not all people reach, this stage follows Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' stage of acceptance.

"The 6th stage of mourning is resilience. To move beyond acceptance one must discover and apply lessons learned about life from the loss." Dr. Barbara Lavi

It is the ability to find the silver lining in the loss which gives renewed purpose and meaning to life in those who survive. If you know someone who seems to be feeling stuck in the grieving process, reach out and encourage them to get professional help.
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