Thursday, January 06, 2005

Grieving and Not

I read something once in a book (it was a long time ago and I don't remember the book) that mentioned that someone had studied some Holocaust survivors and found that those who didn't talk about their experience, who didn't go through counseling adjusted better to their lives later on. It seemed odd to me, but it also rang true. While I certainly have never experienced anything remotely as terrible as the Holocaust, I do recall not expressing large amounts of grief at the deaths of family members. I was sad, but I didn't bawl, I didn't feel depressed and inconsolable. It was sad, it was unfortunate, but life went on.

Recently, I ran across this article (I think it was linked at NRO) that piqued my interest because it touched peripherally on the topic I recalled reading about (see above). For example,
Forced ventilation makes little sense for those whose ordinary coping style is to remain calm, maybe too calm for some people's taste...
So I did some searching on the web for things about one of the researchers mentioned in that article, Dr George A Bonanno.

I found this interview with him. Some interesting excerpts.
We followed a group of people in Michigan over six years in a bereavement study where we knew a lot about the people before the loss occurred. We showed that about half the sample showed no symptoms at any point in the study. They just were not depressed before or after the loss, and we found that they were healthy people. They had fine relationships. The interviewers did not find them cold or aloof, and they did not score high on a measure we had of avoidant attachment. That doesn't mean that a healthy person won't grief [sic] also, but it seemed that they [a person who feels no grief] might feel sad, they might miss the person, but they keep functioning. We know that the people who don't show grief, it's fair to say, are healthy people.
And also interesting was this excerpt.
[W]e found in our research is that there is acute grief ? people who are grieving so severely initially. Ten years ago we may have thought that they're grieving terribly, but they'll get over it. We know now that when people grieve very acutely that does not bode well for their getting better, because it's really hard to recover from that. I've been arguing recently that people who cannot get it off their minds at all, those are the people who are not likely to do well.