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Returning To Work, While Coping With A Loss

Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORT)

Different Types of Grief

Returning To Work, While Coping With A Loss

 

There is no set time frame for grieving the loss of a loved one.  Everyone grieves differently and travels a different path. Unfortunately, many people have to return to work responsibilities before they are emotionally ready.

 

It is important to understand your company’s bereavement policy and take advantage of any benefits that are available. Keep in mind that in addition to bereavement days, some companies offer grief counseling and therapy sessions.

 

Grief can have a huge impact on your ability to work both physically and mentally. To begin with, grief can aggravate physical pain, increase blood pressure as well as weaken your immune system, cause a loss of appetite, or make one feel fatigued. Not only can grief cause physical effects, it can also impact your mental health. Symptoms of grief can include detachment, anxiety, frustration, guilt and depression. These physical and mental symptoms of grief can impact your ability to perform daily tasks at work.

 

When coping with a loss, work often becomes a natural distraction, which can help to restore stability to your life. While you want to focus on being productive, you must also allow yourself to grieve. Trying to mask your grief through work will only lead you to feel abandoned and uncared for. Take the time to nurture yourself through such things as yoga, meditation or some much needed sleep. It’s important to remember that your loved ones would want you to be healthy, cared for and loved.

 

You should never feel alone in the grieving process. Don’t be afraid to reach out to coworkers for their help. Coworkers understand your situation and are often more than happy to help. By pretending that everything is okay, you are only leading yourself to unhealthy grieving that inhibits productivity. Always be honest with yourself regarding the workload you’re capable of completing.

 

Grief tends to come in waves. There will be times at work where you feel overwhelmed and your emotions get the best of you. This is normal and goes along with the healing process. Find a place at work where you can escape to for a few minutes and reflect. This could be your car, the employee breakroom, or another secluded spot.

 

While everyone grieves differently, one thing that is the same for everyone is that the process does not happen overnight. It’s important to put your needs first and reach out for help when needed.

 

Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT)
Assisting DMORT After An Emergency
by Steve Parthemore

 

Through trade journals, I was only vaguely familiar with Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team or DMORT. That soon changed the morning of September 11th 2001 when our office manager came in to tell me about the news on the radio that a plane had collided into one of the World Trade Center towers. As we turned toward the TV, we saw the second plane hit and shortly afterwards learned about the Pentagon and crash in Western Pennsylvania.

 

*Pictured: Steve Parthemore DMORT Volunteer 

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Different Types of Grief

 

Everyone’s experience with the loss of a loved one is different. Most people expect to experience a period of grieving, but what may come as a surprise is how that grief is expressed. There are more than a dozen different types of grief that you may experience.

 

At different times as you move through the grief process, you may experience several of these different types of grief. Keep in mind that some types are very specific to circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one.

 

To help you better understand what you, a family member or friend is experiencing, here are short definitions for common types of grief.

 

Anticipatory Grief
This type of grief often occurs before an impending loss. Family and friends of someone suffering from a debilitating condition, in declining health or is in hospice care are examples of situations that may trigger anticipatory grief.

 

Abbreviated Grief
A short-lived grieving period, due to the fact that the attachment to the deceased person wasn’t as great; the role of the deceased is quickly filled by someone or something else; or there was anticipatory grief, prior to the loss.

 

Absent Grief
Occurs when there are no outward signs of grief and the person seemingly moves on with life, as if nothing has happened. This can occur when someone is in shock or denial. Behavioral changes, such as an increase in drinking, can be common in this situation.

 

Chronic or Prolonged Grief
Grieving that lasts for an extended period of time may be chronic grief. You may notice that there is no significant reduction in the emotional distress, regardless of the amount of time that has passed. The grief feels as fresh as when the loss first happened.

 

Collective Grief
If the grief is felt by a community, society village, or nation because of war, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or the death of a public figure.

 

Delayed Grief
Occurs with people who either consciously or unconsciously avoiding the reality of the loss they have experienced. Some may experience this type of grief if they initially are involved with all the immediate tasks that need to be taken care of or they are supporting others with the loss. The grief tends to hit them at a later date, sometimes brought on unexpectedly.

 

Disenfranchised Grief
This type of grief happens when society or the community does not acknowledge or recognize the loss. The death may be stigmatized (suicide), considered insignificant, or the relationship is not acknowledged by society.

 

Exaggerated Grief
Those who experience overwhelming and intensified “normal” grief reactions that may worsen over time. These reactions may include nightmares, drug abuse, thoughts of suicide, abnormal fears, and the development of psychiatric disorders.

 

“Normal” Grief
There is no “normal” grief as everyone experiences grief for a different period of time and at varying degrees of intensity. For lack of a better description, normal just means there is a movement towards acceptance of the loss and a gradual lessening of symptoms.

 

Traumatic Grief
Grief that is combined with a distressing event is considered traumatic grief. This occurs as a result of a loved one dying in a frightening, unexpected, or traumatic way.

 

Regardless of the type of grief you are experiencing, it is important to seek out the help of family and friends, support organizations or professionals.