Illness is often associated with loss, even when the medical outcome is excellent.
Since prolonged grief is associated with distress and dysfunction, an understanding of healthy ways to deal with loss may propel patients' pursuit of Healthy Survivorship -- and happiness. Reading a 2008 editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry might further this understanding.
Study results conflicted with popular "stage" theories of grief defined by a series of discrete phases, each of which must resolve before progressing to the next.
Yearning, the predominant emotion of the bereaved throughout the observation period, along with disbelief, anger and sadness all peaked within 6 months post-loss and then declined (on average) over time from loss. The authors concluded:
These findings suggest that disbelief, yearning, anger and sadness may represent aspects of a single underlying psychological construct – grief...Importantly, as grief falls, acceptance of the loss rises, suggesting that grief and acceptance may be opposite sides of the same coin...
At its core, grief may be the state of emotional unrest and frustration associated with wanting what one cannot have. Acceptance...may represent emotional equanimity – a sense of inner peace and tranquillity that comes with the letting go of a struggle to regain what is lost or being taken away.
Next: What does this mean for Healthy Survivors?