Grief is a perfectly natural reaction to the loss of a loved one, a pet, a job, a house, or anything in which a great amount of emotion has been invested. The grieving process has definite stages through which most individuals must pass in order to come to terms with their loss and resolve the situation satisfactorily.

Symptoms of stages
• Initial sense of unreality or numbness.
• Refusal to believe that the loss has occurred, with hallucinations of a loved one or the feeling that they are present. This can last for up to three months.
• Series of complex emotions such as guilt (for example, for not spending more time with the lost person) and anger (for example, with God for taking the person or with the doctors for not doing enough to save the deceased’s life), leading to despair and depression, possibly associated with bowel upsets, mental disorders, and even a susceptibility to suicide.
• State of depression with a tendency to increase the use of drugs or alcohol, sleeping problems, general feelings of a lack of well-being, agitation, and tearfulness. Eventually, life becomes bearable, and even enjoyable, but the whole process may take up to two years or more. There is some evidence that the death of a partner may increase the chance of death in the bereaved.

Conventional care
Treatment of long-term depression may require the involvement of a psychiatrist, in conjunction with antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy, and counseling. Help may also be obtained from a variety of support groups and religious organizations.

Homeopathic medicine
Homeopathic remedies can help at each stage of the grieving process. If a person does not appear to be recovering, however, constitutional treatment may be necessary, the remedy depending upon individual symptoms . Aurum met. is indicated for those who are grieving over the loss of a loved one or the failure of a business. Causticum is given for chronic, long-term grief and feelings akin to grief that are triggered by childbirth; Ignatia is used to treat the initial impact of grief; and Phosphoric ac. is used in the treatment of grief associated with great exhaustion. Staphysagria is indicated for suppressed grief that is linked to embarrassment or humiliation. Other remedies prescribed constitutionally include Lachesis, Nat. mur., and Phosphorus. Remedies specifically for the early stages of grief include Arnica, when the grieving
person wants to be left alone, insists they are all right, rejects physical comfort, and displays the reactions of a person in shock; Aconite, if there is great fear and the person is on the verge of collapse, having witnessed a violent death for example; and Opium, when the bereaved is literally numb with grief, and is very frightened by the death of their loved one. In the later stages of grief, Nux vomica is indicated when there is great anger and criticism of others, and Pulsatilla is prescribed for tearfulness at the slightest provocation, insomnia, and recurrent colds accompanied by yellow or green catarrh.

The most important thing for a grieving person to do is to express their emotions. If they have difficulty talking about their problems, they should write down their thoughts, paint a picture, or use some other form of expression. Bottling up emotions may lead to chronic depression or lowered resistance to physical illnesses. Relaxation techniques or massage may also be of great benefit.It is also important that someone who is grieving is kind to and patient with themselves. They may believe that life will never be the same again, but time does heal, and their anguish will lessen. If progress through the grieving process is slow, however, talking to a counselor who has received specific training in dealing with grief, such as those working for support groups, is advisable.

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