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Grief gone lost

The American Psychiatric Association is the largest psychiatric organization globally. It publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, while the World Health Organization maintains the International Classification of Diseases editions.

The psychiatric services act according to this publication and thus can legitimately prescribe sick leave, medication, or therapy accepted by health insurance and employers.


Until nine years ago, bereavement was not figured as a diagnosis, which led to over six decades of misattributing grief as a mental disorder.




Have you any memories or knowledge from films that until around the 60's, it was the tradition in Christian countries to wear black as a widow or widower to go through the year of mourning? Communicating one's grief to the outside world with one's clothes helped the environment consider one's vulnerability. People had the space to grieve the death of a loved one, others showed compassion, people took regard for the person mourning, and nobody thought about bereavement as a disorder but a natural reaction to a loss.


The fact that the Psychiatric Associations did not consider bereavement from 1950 to 2013 led to a de-humanization of the vulnerability through losses, I believe.

As a result, not only have professionals treated grief like depression, but it has also seeded its way into society's perception that when someone struggles to be happy for a more extended time, that person must be depressed.


In the construct of employment law, insurance, and psychiatric considerations, an employee in Switzerland (for example) has the right to 6 days off work when losing a partner, a child, or a parent. Can you imagine burying someone you love so deeply and then picking up your job after your life has drastically changed? Going back to work gives a sense of normality during the mourning process. However, in the early stages of grief, one is still trying to deal with the shock and coming to terms with the new reality.

Clearly, time for grieving is not available in the work environment. Practitioners who support people in this very vulnerable condition know that when grief is being blocked for the individual to function, the consequences can be insomnia, addictions, depression, mood swings, aggression, apathy, or emotional numbness.


I'm very passionate about communicating the importance of grief because it's so present in one's life that I believe being knowledgeable in this topic contributes to a healthy mind.

We grieve for many other things in life, such as the ending of a relationship, for the culture we have left behind when relocating, and for material losses that gave us stability or safety, like as a house or money.


I will be very interested to learn from your observations of changes in the way people mourn in public since the 70ties in your country, culture, or religious customs. Thank you for sharing.

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