Grief: A step that cannot be avoided

Grief is a natural process that everyone on the planet must endure. I recently had the pleasure to speak at a traumatic brain injury (TBI) group at the Medical Center of the Rockies, Loveland, CO, on grief. A group attendee said that it seemed like their “old self” died after experiencing a TBI. I shared that:

  • It is common to feel grief as a result of major life challenges for at least 12 months.
  • Grieving is a natural process and not considered pathological.
  • Grieving is something that each one of us must go through, rather than bury or avoid, or it could have emotional and physical ramifications for the rest of our lives.
  • Common reactions to grief: spontaneous crying, mood swings, disbelief and denial, difficulty with concentration or memory, preoccupation with the life of the person who died, awkward feelings around others, and physical reactions such as low energy, weight loss/gain, tightness in chest, throat or stomach (Capital Hospice).
  • The importance of discovering their new norm through new routines.
  • So often our identity is wrapped in what we do, but that is not our true identity. Individuals with TBI need to discover their personal identity.
  • Self-care and patience are very important in the grieving and healing process.
  • The difference between pain and suffering is acceptance.
  • The criteria of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder from the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders were described. Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder can include: Experienced to the death of a loved one; Clinically significant grief lasting for longer than 12 months; persistent yearning/longing for the deceased; intense sorrow and emotional pain, preoccupation with the deceased or the circumstances of the death, marked difficulty accepting the death, experiencing disbelief or emotional numbness, bitterness or anger related to the loss, maladaptive appraisals about oneself in relation to the deceased, excessive avoidance of reminders of the loss, a desire to die in order to be with the deceased, difficulty trusting other individuals since the death, feeling alone or detached, feeling that life is meaningless or empty, confusion about one’s role in life, diminished sense of one’s identity, and a reluctance to plan for the future.
  • Eric Gentry, PhD, LMHC has developed a theory to intentionally lower one’s autonomic nervous system levels in order to heal from emotional trauma more effectively by deep physical relaxation in the hip region (sphincter, psoas, and kegel) on a regular basis. This process will keep the entire body in a relaxed state where emotional acceptance and healing are more compatible.

I would love to speak at your support group on emotional issues. Please contact me at

1006 Robertson St.
Bldg 1 West Wing, Suite 110
Fort Collins, CO 80524
(970) 829-1968

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