Chaplain: Grief part of normal process
Grief is a normal response to death and often appears during holidays and special events. The Rev. Bradley Skogen, chaplain at Lakewood Health Systems in Staples, spoke about grief during a Nov. 29 program at Tri-County Hospital. He explained wha...
Grief is a normal response to death and often appears during holidays and special events.
The Rev. Bradley Skogen, chaplain at Lakewood Health Systems in Staples, spoke about grief during a Nov. 29 program at Tri-County Hospital.
He explained what grief is, the emotional and physical symptoms of grief and resources to help with grief. The program was before the Light a Light for Hospice program, a ceremony remembering people who have died.
Grief is the natural human response to loss, Skogen said. Its a normal thing, he said, just like pain is the natural response to someone hitting his or her hand on something or laughing after someone tells a joke.
Most often, grief is associated with death but it is a response after other losses such as relationships, health or youth as well.
It can apply to any number of losses, Skogen said.
And grief happens at anytime, whether someone likes it or not, he said. A person needs to take time for grief because otherwise it will find the person later, Skogen said.
Grief involves cycles, and people experience different parts of grief at different times. Some parts of grief include despair, detachment and protest, Skogen said. People might experience these feelings right after a loss or much later. It depends on the person, he said.
Skogen remembers a woman who was upset because she began crying one day but her husband had been dead for nine months. She was upset because she thought she was past crying. But grief isnt all neat and tidy, Skogen said. It can last a long time.
One of the joys of parish ministry for Skogen is that he learns from many people who have experienced losses. One woman shared her idea of loss with Skogen and that helped him put it into a broader context. Life is part of death and death is part of life, he said.
We are born, we live, we die, but there is something after that, Skogen said.
Beyond emotional impacts, grief also has physical impacts.
Many people experience tight chest, loss of appetite, anxiety and other physical side effects from grief, Skogen said.
During holidays and other special events such as birthdays, people feel grief.
It seems like everyone wants to celebrate but I dont feel like it, is a natural way to feel, Skogen said.
Its not strange to feel that way, he said, and he expects people to feel that way.
The most difficult times after a loss are the firsts first Thanksgiving, first Christmas or first birthday after the loss, Skogen said. These special events are full of memories, he said, but each year after the first might not be quite as difficult.
I hear the question is it always going to be this way? Does it ever get better? Skogen said.
And he says it will get better. Skogen is still reminded of his maternal grandpa who died 15 years ago when he smells or sees something that reminds him of his grandpa. He has adjusted to the fact that his grandpa has died and it isnt as difficult, he said.
Some of the best resources Skogen suggests for dealing with grief arent books or articles but things someone can do for themselves or for others. The resources are:
" Take time for rest, relaxation, security and hope
" Allow others to implement care
" Care for others
" Have an attainable goal
" Participate in worship or support/study groups
Most importantly, Skogen said, allow grief to take its course. The United States in particular has a way of rushing through grief but people need to take time for grieving, he said.
If you dont take time, it will still be there, Skogen said.
After Skogens program, Tri-County Hospital employees and hospice volunteers hosted a Light a Light for Hospice program. At the memorial ceremony, candles were lit and names of people were read out loud. The program concluded with the lighting of trees to remember the people.