LOSING A PARENT, OR LOVED ONE HAS A PROVEN IMPACT ON THE BRAIN

People tend to assume that the loss of a parent or close family member is more traumatic for a young child, and neglect to support adults experiencing it. But the reality is virtually everyone will experience losing a parent, and unfortunately, dealing with the grief is not discussed or researched often. Death in families is rarely discussed in detail.

The common result is that when the tragedy happens, the sufferer might feel detached and alone in their mourning. Not to mention, when their grief continues over a long period of time, their loved ones can become impatient, wishing the mourner would ‘get over it,’ oblivious to the deep impact of losing a parent or loved one at any age. The devastation can lead to feeling like you are alone in a room, even when its full of people.

However, experts agree that it’s important to recognize just how long-lasting the impact of the loss of a parent really is.

The Effects of Parental Bereavement

Studies have proven parental loss can have negative outcomes, mentally, emotionally and physically. Of course, everyone experiences loss differently and the effects can vary depending on the individuals:

  • Past experiences
  • Coping mechanisms
  • Relationship with the parent
  • Environment and culture
  • The circumstances of the death

Studies on Parental Bereavement

A 1970 cohort study examined over 11,000 participants to test the long-term effects of a parent’s death in childhood has on adult life. They compared

1) orphans

2) children from divorced or unstable families

3) children who lived with two, healthy parents

By age 30, the orphans had greater unemployment rates— and even those who were employed worked in unskilled positions — than the other groups. They also had a higher rate of smoking cigarettes, along with symptoms of chronic depression, and a feeling that ‘they will never get what they want out of life.’

Another study was conducted to focus on the perspective and experience of the child. Through written entries, or lengthy interviews, 37 participants aged 20–80 related their stories. The research found that in cases where the child lacked open communication, support, or stability in daily life during the mourning period, the long-term emotional damage was worsened. The effects of a death can last as long as 71 years, depending on the management of the grief. Proper support, communication, consistency in life can minimize the suffering.

Gender may also be a factor in how a person experiences loss. A survey including 8,865 adults found that sons take the death of their fathers harder, while girls struggle more from the death of their mothers. (3)

What We Can Learn from Brain Imaging

While no one should ever try to explain, or understand grief solely with knowledge from brain imaging studies, there are a handful that can help us understand what is actually going on in the brain when someone experiences grief.

In a 2003 study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers saw that three regions of the brain are involved in processing grief: the posterior cingulate cortex, frontal cortex, and cerebellum. But what was significant was that those parts of the brain also help to regulate human sleep and appetite. This may explain, according to clinical social worker Jumoke Omojola, why grieving individuals experience: “headaches, stomach aches, dizziness, tightness in the chest, too much sleep, too little sleep, overeating, or lack of appetite.”

Grief effects health

Another study in 2008 from the Journal of Clinical Oncology found a startling link between unresolved grief and health conditions, such as immune disorders, hypertension, cardiac events, and cancer. Compared to people who had worked through their grief after losing a mother and/or a father, “people with unresolved grief reported significantly worsening psychological health… and physical health.”

To understand the process of grieving the loss of a parent, it helps to be familiar with the conventional stages of grief:

The Five Stages of Grief

  1. Denial – The sufferers are numbed and disbelieving of the situation.
  2. Anger – They blame others for their grief, and may act violently.
  3. Bargaining – They “negotiate with higher powers” to bring back loved ones.
  4. Depression – They feel overwhelming sadness, and no desire to socialize.
  5. Acceptance – They come to terms with their grief and begin to move forward.

People experience these phases in different orders and can skip, or repeat some. It’s important to be aware of regular symptoms of grief; a prolonged grief disorder (PGD) is when the expected symptoms of grief continue for months after the death and they have lost motivation and the ability to carry on with normal life.

Healing from Grief

If you have lost a parent, treat yourself with patience. Even if your loss happened years ago, remember to value your feelings – they are real. You can help to support your healing by considering some of these approaches:

  1. Interventions – Sometimes a sufferer won’t even consider treatment. Relatives and friends should make an effort to support the person and suggest help. The mourner is likely to refuse and rationalize the prolonged mourning. A professional therapist can assist in mediating an intervention. (4)
  2. Grief Counseling – This method addresses the emotions surrounding loss and allows the person to express them through role playing, trauma therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy. (5)
  3. Support Groups – Group therapy is a good way to communicate and share the painful experience and to form meaningful relationships.
  4. Medication – For people who suffer from clinical depression, alongside grief,  there are natural anti-depressant tonics that can help with your mental state, so consult with a holistic practitioner.
  5. Socialize – Connecting with loved ones is healing for mourners; other people can be a listening ear, or bring joy and comfort.
  6. Selfcare – Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly diminish the urge to begin unhealthy behaviors, like overeating, depression, and substance addiction. Remember to eat healthily, relax, meditate, and sleep 7-8 hours every night.
  7. Spiritual Healing – For religious people, turning to their faith and traditions can be therapeutic and comforting in a time of pain.

Source: TheHeartySoul.com

 

About the Author

Amanda-Mary
With almost twenty years spent researching and treating Cancer, I am a well respected author, teacher and health coach.

I do have a list of qualifications, but I find them cumbersome and false. The fact I am a qualified Holistic Doctor is neither here, nor there. Medical education is entirely corrupt and something that can be used against you. I go on courses in order to learn, not to buy a badge to hide behind, or a stick to beat people with.

So much nonsense has been written about me that I never read, or choose to absorb. It’s all about them, never about me. I have been attacked and targeted simply because I have helped people and not been silenced. A common misconception is that I am holistic, but the truth is I do not sit on either side of the imaginary divide between what is “mainstream” and what is “holistic.” There is greed and corruption on both sides and examples of bad practice in every field.
Personally, I am only interested in what works and improves the life of the patient.

In some cases, radiation can work and so am happy to recommend that route, if it works and saves a life in an emergency situation. But there is no ‘one size fits all’ and no cookie cutter protocol. There are many variables in healing the body. We are all individual and all capable of change, so each case must be considered individually. What works for one, may not work for another. Mass medication is wrong.
My research and work has led me all over the world and got me into some tight spots at times, but I am thankful for every twist and turn and have learned a lot from each. I am wiser as a result and see that life teaches us all. I recovered from breast cancer 20 years ago, which has saved my life over and over and made me very aware of how fleeting and precious life is. I live each day to the full and as if it were my last.
I have twenty children, many of whom are adopted, four are mine naturally. I love and adore them all and am honored to have been able to raise them, for now they are strong and independent adults. My children are the most important people in my life.

I despise materialism, I have old fashioned views and feel the modern world has lost much in the way of values and common decency. So I travel the world with my partner and 6-year-old daughter, helping people and sharing knowledge. I am still learning and feel that everyday is a school day. The reason I started this blog was so I could pass on some of this knowledge to others.

I speak the truth about everything and my honest approach shocks many, as I tend to say the things most people would not. I focus on solutions, as I am a problem solver at heart and there is only one truth. Stick to the truth and you will never go far wrong.

I hope you enjoy our blog site and the articles we labor over for your benefit. Please donate to the cause on the page above, as we do not receive a penny in advertising, or sponsorship. It is all from the heart.

Love and light.
Amanda Mary Jewell