Cullman Senior Magazine Summer 2019 - Page 40

Guest Author Sherry Brown LCISW Perspective of Grief and the Elderly As a counselor for many years, I’ve encountered the grief of others many times, but an example for me regarding grief with seniors relates to my own grandpar- ents. I remember well at the burial of my sweet grand- mother, my grandfather’s reaction and sorrow. After over 50 years of marriage, they were best friends. He patted her casket and said, “Lord this is my sweet- heart. If you would just take me too.” He would live a few more years but always longed to be with her. Past studies have shown that the immune system is weakened with extreme 40 | SUMMER 2019 grief often making one sus- ceptible to serious illnesses. With seniors, this can be serious as the body tries to heal, but the mind is also struggling with the depres- sion and overwhelming helplessness that occur. Clinically there are con- sidered to be five stages of grief-denial, anger, bargain- ing, depression and accep- tance. What I have noticed is these do not occur in any certain order and everyone grieves in their own way – it is different for each person. I always encourage peo- ple to listen to their heart during their grief experi- ence. The moods are often moving about. There can be days of de- spair and days where they are doing well. Then out of the blue, like a wave at the beach, here it comes again. The despair waves diminish some but can still occur for years. It will still hurt but will be acknowledged and a person will even allow time to experience it rather than fight against it. The wave will knock you off your feet but you rise again and catch your breath. Grief causes physical and emotional pain. When grieving, most of us can cry easily and sometimes that is uncomfortable for oth- ers around us so they may CULLMAN COUNTY SENIOR MAGAZINE