- What was your earliest experience with death or loss? Who did it involve? Describe what happened?
The first time to experience death was when I was five years old. It was during the summer holidays after I had closed school for a short break. My aunt had been admitted to a nearby government hospital for a couple of months due to late stages of skin cancer. As it was customary, I accompanied my mum as she went to the hospital every evening to see my aunt. On the day my aunt died, everything became different. Mum received a phone call from my aunts husband who broke the news to her of aunts death. Mother could not believe the news until when she saw the body of my late aunt lying in the hospital mortuary.
- What were the physical, emotional, and cognitive reaction you were aware of in yourself following the loss?
On the day I received the information about my aunts death, I did not cry or react otherwise. I was not sure of what was going on since I did not understand what death precisely meant. I thus remained in a state of confusion, not knowing why everyone looked sad and sorrowful. As a result, I reduced my hyperactive and playful nature as everyone seemed withdrawn and not much interested in me.
How did the people around you respond to the loss? How did they respond to your reaction?
Everyone who received the news of aunts death answered with a sorrowful sigh and began crying. When my grandmother who was living in next apartment heard about the loss, she could not control herself. She began crying loudly to mourn her dead daughter. The cries attracted a lot of attention from the neighborhood who came home to comfort the family from the loss. I kept asking when I would ever meet or at least see aunt again, but no one seemed ready to answer me.
- Grief timeline: do a historical analysis/ timeline of personal losses in your life, starting as early as you can remember. The timeline should highlight the following aspects: type of loss, when it occurred, how you learned of the loss?
After aunts death, I have experienced three other losses of close friends and loved ones in my life. The first loss I experienced was the death of my grandp. By this time, my grandfather was in his last years, at the age of eighty-nine years. My grandpa was suffering from so many old age diseases and was receiving special care from a geriatrics nursing home. On the day that grandfather passed on, the nursing home in charge called one of my uncles and told him. My uncle then visited our home and informed every member of our family. The second loss I experienced was when my cousin lost a baby during birth. The loss happened as one of my cousin who was expectant and on labor was rushed to the hospital. During delivery, she developed an obstetric complication and, unfortunately, the child died. When she returned home a few days later, I asked her where the baby was, and she told me the baby had died. Later on, I experienced the loss of a friend. We had just parted after having a house party at our home. As she was traveling home, the vehicle that she had boarded experienced a terrible crash. We received the news through the television. On further inquiries on the passengers who were on the bus, I found out my friend was among the passengers who had died on the spot.
When the death of my father occurred, it crushed me completely. During the usual moments of having a good family time, my dad started complaining of a stubbing pain in the chest. Throughout my life, my father had never suffered any serious illness. Dad had never been admitted to hospital. Without any delays, my mother called an ambulance and dad was rushed to hospital. My father remained in the hospital for about three days as investigations were being done. The doctors diagnosed dad of an impeding heart attack. As the treatment was underway, my dad passed on. The doctor confirmed my dad dead and broke the news to my mother who came home crying. Dads death greatly affected my whole family. My dad being the sole bread winner, I felt like the world had come to an end. The impact of my dads death greatly affected me both physically and psychologically.
- Discuss how your family aIDressed the deaths and losses as mentioned above, e.g. Ignored, openly discussed, e.t.c. Relate how this experience relates to your ethnicity, race, region or philosophical perspective?
The family openly discussed my grand fathers death. Throughout his life, grandfather had made so many achievements and positively impacted the lives of many people in the society. As a result, grandfathers funeral and service were moments of celebrating the life he had lived and motivating the younger people to live a purposeful life. According to our culture, death of a person who had a positive influence on the society is used as a point of encouraging others to lead lives that will have a positive impact. The family silently discussed the death of my cousins unborn child. Only the relatives got to know about the death. There was no organized funeral meetings or burial service. My cousin was taken for counseling and given accorded social and psychological support. My friends death was discussed openly both in my family, her family and in the whole region. The discussion was so public because the accident affected many lives and hence many families.
- Identify how your beliefs and experiences may affect you in interaction and work with the bereaved. Incorporate relevant course content about the grief process that relates to this self-examination.
Given your experience with loss, identify factors that assist your coping capacities with loss/ grief.
Later on after my friends burial, I was able to overcome all the pain, loneliness and bitterness I had harbored following my friends death. I then accepted that it was an inevitable experience and that each one of us will eventually bid the world goodbye and rest in peace. This experience has helped improve my interaction with the bereaved families. From the loss of my best friend, I am able to acknowledge that every bereaved person has to go through various stages of grief to eventually overcome the loss.
Initially, the bereaved will get into a state of denial, bitterness and disbelief. The person will not accept that their loved one has died and will tend to have hopes that soon, the person will come back to life. After that, the bereaved person will get into a state of arguing with self. The individual starts to feel as if they can reverse the death process. The individual will start to ask themselves why the death had to happen to their loved one. The bereaved will also begin to examine what they did or did not do that could have led to the death. Then they realize that the death was inevitable and that there is nothing much they could have done to prevent it. At this point, depression creeps in and the bereaved withdraw from their usual ways of life. The individuals tend to either oversleep, overeat, starve or even cry a lot. The person also tends to think a lot and hence the anger builds up in their heart. The person could get angry at themselves, the doctors if their loved one died in the hospital or even at God. Its after this stage of anger that a person accepts the fact that their loved one is dead, and that life has to move on.
From my previous experiences with loss, it is clear that only when one goes through the stages of grief do they experience healing from the loss. Other factors that facilitate coping with a loss include staying with close friends and relatives to avoid loneliness. Also engaging in new activities that help you forget the death experience will enhance coping. In the case of a traumatizing death experience, attending counseling sessions will help overcome the psychological trauma and cope with the loss.