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View Full Version : Grievers, I need your help.



Felixaar
2010-02-19, 07:21 AM
So, this is a rather awkward question to ask. I'm working on a short story where grief is a major part of it, but I must say I never suffered that much of it myself - grief in this case referring to the death of a loved one.

The only people I know who have died are my mothers grandmother, who I barely remember, my nana, which was very sad, but, hey, I was thirteen, and my grandfather, who died about six months ago. The latter occasions did affect me to the point where I cried, but, as my step-mother said when we first got the call saying my nana had died, "One good cry usually does it."

So, anyway. One of my character's love interest has just died in an unfortunate accident, and he never got to tell her how he felt. Can you think of anything more tragic? Puppies drowning, I suppose.

But still, I've never experienced true grief on this level. I realise it's probably not a happy thing to talk about, but if anyone could give me a bit of a lowdown on their on grief, through reply here or PM, I'd be forever greatful.

T'otherwise, I'll have to kill someone I love to get perspective :smallamused:

sparkyinbozo
2010-02-19, 07:31 AM
The cold version of what happens during grief (5 stages):

Shock/denial hits first, and usually isn't that long lived.
Anger
Bargaining, even in irrational way - like a kid thinking that if he/she is good, mommy will come back
Sadness - longest part
Acceptance

The first 4 stages shouldn't last beyond 6 weeks in a normal bereavement situation. Some others might be able to better help you with the actual feelings, like a pit in your chest.

ForzaFiori
2010-02-19, 07:35 AM
I don't know about everyone else, but the few times I've had that much bad stuff happened, other than the 5 stages, I had one of two things happen. Either I got that pit in my stomach (to me it kinda feels similar to that tightening you get in a scary movie when you know somethings about to pop out and scare the S*** out of you, but you don't know when) or, I wound up trying to just shut down. I didn't do anything, didn't feel anything, all that jazz. Like to me, everything just stopped.

Dr.Epic
2010-02-19, 07:44 AM
You can shoot me a PM. My thing's a little uncomfortable for me to talk about on the open threads.


T'otherwise, I'll have to kill someone I love to get perspective :smallamused:

That's so cruel. Hire a trained assassin to do it. They know what they're doing and you'll be boosting the economy.

blackfox
2010-02-19, 03:58 PM
Going through something like this right now if you wanna send a PM as well. Personal experiences > whatever template I could tell you.

Pyrian
2010-02-19, 04:02 PM
It's worth noting that individual experiences can and do vary widely.

valadil
2010-02-19, 04:12 PM
I'm not going to go into a ton of depth on this. It's not that I mind sharing, but I don't feel like getting overly emotional right now. Also, before I get started I should point out that at the time this happened I had moderate depression. I wasn't sad or upset all the time, just numb and unfeeling. Counterintuitively, I think this actually lessened the impact on me.

Towards the end of junior year of high school, one of my friends killed himself. I was in a funk for what I estimate to be about a week, but it was hard to keep track of time so I'm not really sure. My high school actually did an awesome job with the grief counseling. All his friends took over one of the unused rooms and told stories about the guy. It hurt because we missed him, but we laughed and cried together.

Long term, this told me I was mortal. I'd dealt with grandparents and pets dying before, but this was real. I always knew grandparents and pets would die. My friend was younger than me. I think I actually stopped being a kid that day (although I also loosened up and started having more silly fun since I realized my time was limited).

When I look back and reflect on memories, anything before then is seen in the third person. I'm always looking over my own shoulder as though the memories are held by someone else. After that point everything is first person. I've certainly grown in the last 10 years, but I still recognize myself as the same person. Before June of 2000, not so much.

Anyway, the event made death real to me. I don't want to trivialize what happened, but I don't think my reaction was as extreme as if this friend had been an SO. Take my experience with the loss of a friend and multiply it by breaking up with someone you love. That should be the lower bounds of how your character is affected by this.

thubby
2010-02-19, 04:48 PM
The cold version of what happens during grief (5 stages):

Shock/denial hits first, and usually isn't that long lived.
Anger
Bargaining, even in irrational way - like a kid thinking that if he/she is good, mommy will come back
Sadness - longest part
Acceptance

i realize this has gained common acceptance, but it was debunked ages ago.

blackfox
2010-02-19, 05:33 PM
It's worth noting that individual experiences can and do vary widely.Fair enough. But if he's looking around out here then he'll get a range of personal experiences...

Pyrian
2010-02-19, 05:59 PM
Yes, hopefully. While my post came immediately after yours, 'fox, it wasn't meant to be directed towards you or your experiences. :smallcool:

Toastkart
2010-02-19, 06:01 PM
The cold version of what happens during grief (5 stages):

Shock/denial hits first, and usually isn't that long lived.
Anger
Bargaining, even in irrational way - like a kid thinking that if he/she is good, mommy will come back
Sadness - longest part
Acceptance

The first 4 stages shouldn't last beyond 6 weeks in a normal bereavement situation. Some others might be able to better help you with the actual feelings, like a pit in your chest.

Also keep in mind that these aren't actually stages. They hit different people at different times, and it's not uncommon for someone to go through them in a different order than what you've listed, or to go back to a stage they've already been in several times.


i realize this has gained common acceptance, but it was debunked ages ago.
Not that there aren't more valid criticisms, but the reason most people debunk it is because Kubler-Ross put it in terms of stages, which most people assume are discrete entities that are gone through linearly, even when she fairly specifically said otherwise.

blackfox
2010-02-19, 06:15 PM
Yes, hopefully. While my post came immediately after yours, 'fox, it wasn't meant to be directed towards you or your experiences. :smallcool:Haha, alright. :smalltongue:

sparkyinbozo
2010-02-19, 10:58 PM
Not that there aren't more valid criticisms, but the reason most people debunk it is because Kubler-Ross put it in terms of stages, which most people assume are discrete entities that are gone through linearly, even when she fairly specifically said otherwise.

That's a better way to put it...it is really more of a basic inventory of common emotions. Evidence for the actual, progressive stages is mixed; just easier to remember that way.

As far as the 6-weeks, it's from the DSM-IV-TR criteria for bereavement & Adjustment Disorder.

Aside from that, Felixaar, it's really cool and a great sign that you are willing to reach out here, and that so many people are willing to share. GitP win. Hope the best for you.

Felixaar
2010-02-20, 01:26 AM
Thanks, sparky. My greatest thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.

Things will logically be different from person to person, and thus no one system can be uniformly correct, but I'm sure those 'stages' show up commonly in many or most cases. To say that they will always happen the exact same way every time would be roughly akin to saying every time you flip a coin, you'll get heads.

Anyhow :smallsmile: thanks very much, everyone. If it encourages, I should note that I will be thanking all concerned throughout the book.

Dr.Epic
2010-02-20, 01:28 AM
Thanks, sparky. My greatest thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.

Things will logically be different from person to person, and thus no one system can be uniformly correct, but I'm sure those 'stages' show up commonly in many or most cases. To say that they will always happen the exact same way every time would be roughly akin to saying every time you flip a coin, you'll get heads.

Anyhow :smallsmile: thanks very much, everyone. If it encourages, I should note that I will be thanking all concerned throughout the book.

I'll respond to you PM in a few minutes. Sorry about that. Had class today, played a zombie game with friends for a few hours, and took a nap.

purple gelatinous cube o' Doom
2010-02-20, 01:38 AM
Felixaar, I just sent you a PM with a suggestion. Thought it would be best to do it that way since it skirts board inappropriate topics.

Felixaar
2010-02-20, 08:34 PM
Thanks very much to both of you :smallbiggrin:

CrimsonAngel
2010-02-20, 08:39 PM
Usualy I start in didbelief, especialy when the only information I am given is "someone was hit by a car, OMG".

Solaris
2010-02-20, 11:40 PM
As far as the 6-weeks, it's from the DSM-IV-TR criteria for bereavement & Adjustment Disorder.

Which is reason enough for me to take it with a grain of salt the size of a house. Mourning for two months does not make you crazy, nor does it make your personality wrong. A year? Maybe. Not if it's your spouse or child. Time was when people mattered to other people, when grief was something to be respected, not medicated.


I'm gonna post mine here, instead of on the PM. Everyone loves war stories, right? (We might have fewer if more people heard 'em, but that's neither here nor there.) It'll be stream of consciousness style. I'm not going for anything more than a vague organization here. Back on deployment we took a few casualties (the wounded kind, not the dead kind... well, not permanently dead). My stages of grief run in the following vein: "Anger. More anger. Less anger. Over it."
To be more long-spoken, I was pissed off at just about everything that moved and wasn't one of my comrades. This included the chain of command for the second incident, which was an accident that could've easily been avoided if we weren't trying to be hard-chargers long after the need for hard-chargers ended. The first incident was traumatic for the whole unit, while the second just for the guys in that truck, me, and my buddy.
The first incident was an HBIED. It blew three men in half. For the mind-blower, I would've been in that room if I hadn't changed sections (artillery-speak for squads) just a couple of months before - I was always either point man or the medic's PSD (personal security doofus detachment). As it was, I was in the guard tower about a hundred meters from the building. I saw the building go up, and I watched them bring the guys inside the COP and patch them up as best they could before the Black Hawk arrived to transport them to the hospital. It was... frustrating. I was one of the half-dozen men in the unit trained most to deal with casualties, and I was stuck up in the tower watching. It was worse for my buddies, who were actually treating them and were in the trucks transporting them from the scene of the attack to the helicopter's landing pad. Their screams will haunt many dreams in this unit until none of us are left alive. We were all very... quiet, I think you could say, after that. It's difficult to describe the emotions. Anger doesn't quite do it justice. The sorrow didn't really hit like you'd think it would, but you'd catch yourself noticing something that they did, or someplace that they usually were, and you'd miss them. A little twinge, a little sore in the throat, a little damp in the eye. One of the guys hurt was one of the medics, and he was one of the players in our D&D session. It ended, we really didn't want to go on without him. That's the day I first started to really hate the enemy (unrelated to the D&D game, completely related to the senseless act of brutality - a bomb doesn't care who it kills). By the next day, we all wanted to go out and kill everyone in that village. Man, woman, child, every damn one. We didn't, though, we were more professional than that. The guilty parties really were gone months before - we just found one of their parting gifts. Didn't stop me from hating everyone in that village. Let's just say that it wouldn't have been the brake pedal I'd be pressing if I found one of 'em in front of my bumper, eh? After a while, things went back to normal. I still wanted to do violence to anyone in that village, and to this day I still think only ill of them. At no point after the first coupla days was it really prominent in my mind, but I (and almost all the rest of us) changed a lot. We weren't quite the good people we used to be. We went out of our way to find reason to run over vehicles or livestock on the road. I hold no illusions, though, I had it easier than the guys who were on the ground by far (to say nothing of the guys actually in the blast). Like I said, there's screams that won't leave their dreams. It was exponentially harder for guys who were there when there was actually a shooting war going on.
The second time, like I said, it was an accident. We were the only unit in Diyala who continued to roll out for two patrols a day, averaging eight to ten hours per patrol. One of our guys managed to blow off most of the fingers on his hand mishandling a .50-cal round. As near as we could figure, he somehow managed to double-feed it, one round struck the back of another, and when he ejected them and was picking them up to throw them out the turret the one exploded in his hand. Any other versions were shot down quite vehemently, as we've no interest in letting the Army weasel out of paying for the loss of his fingers (they reattached all but one, but he no longer has use of his index finger or thumb). Our First Sergeant, who I have nothing good to say about except perhaps that he will retire someday soon, was leading the charge on trying to pin the blame on this guy. The emotions from that one kinda crept up on me, and they, too, were fairly quiet compared to what you see on TV/books. Real people, I think, don't scream their emotions out for all the world to see, especially not their suffering. I was the one who scrubbed all of the blood and... pieces out, chasing out everybody else because I was best-equipped to deal with it out of the junior enlisted, and God forbid an NCO or officer lift a finger. I have a well-developed sense of gallows humor that helps me deal with misery and suffering and the callousness to ignore other people's when need be. Even so, when I was scrubbing that blood out I did it with grit teeth. I was real quiet for about a week after that. Thought a lot. Asked if what we were doing had any purpose. It didn't. Not at that stage, not anymore. All we did were presence patrols and clear minefields with our boots. After that, I was real crabby and unmotivated.

tl;dr: Grief is a lot quieter a thing than in books, TV, movies, and media.