Saturday, December 24, 2011

Causes of Insomnia Part 1 Grief Cycle

Last Monday I had to lay my father to rest. Dad was 82 and even though some consider that he lived a full life no one understands the pain of losing a parent. 12 million Americans lose a parent annually and adult children often feel abandonment and panic when caught by a sudden death which can lead to depression and insomnia. We may live many years, but we will always be a child in relation to our parents. Our lives are full with our careers, family, friends but we naturally expect our parents to be there for us. When they die our world becomes a different place. No matter what age or how their death happened, the pain for the surviving adult children can be very hard.

A grief cycle has been developed that details the phases a person goes through upon the death of a family member. The first phase is shock. If your parent is elderly you know that someday you will lose them but you are never ready when that day comes. The second phase is denial. We want to deny that death has actually taken place. We hope it isn’t true. We just want it to be a bad dream and when we wake up everything will be all right. Healing from grief cannot happen until we accept the reality that our parent has passed.

The third phase is anger. We want to blame someone else (God, doctors, other family members) or ourselves for the loss and guilt sets in. The” what if” I had done this or “what if” they could have done that are questions that will never be answered. You may also be angry with the world in general wondering how people can just go on with their normal lives when such a misfortune has happened. The fourth phase is mourning and this is usually the longest phase. Symptoms of this phase include feelings of depression, insomnia, guilt, physical illness, loneliness, panic and periods of crying for no reason. The fifth phase is recovery. Even though we never really recover from death as death changes our lives forever, we do get to a point where we move on with our lives.

This grief cycle is not as simple as real life grief as many phases can overlap because each death is unique in itself. Each person experiences grief in their own way as it is long-lasting and usually does not fit a particular pattern or cycle. Experts have found that doing things like watch a funny movie or just taking a walk helps to get your life started again. The only cure for grief is time and in the meantime you should avoid alcohol and drugs, watch your diet and get your sleep. Remember losing sleep will cause insomnia which can lead to depression. Insomnia and depression are two fold as insomnia is a symptom of depression that can also lead to other health issues. If you are worried that you are suffering from depression during your grief process seek help by way of support groups, your family physician and/or a mental health care professional.

Many people think they are having a serious mental illness because of what they are going through. Most phases of grief are considered normal unless they become overwhelming or last for an extended period of time. Depression that lasts for months with no sign of improvement is not normal and professional help should be considered. Major depression is a psychiatric disorder that lasts two weeks in a row and is accompanied by other symptoms like; loss of appetite, weight loss, low energy level, unjustified guilt, loss of interest in family, work or normal daily life, lack of concentration, thoughts of suicide and insomnia.

Delaying finalizing their parent’s belongings is normal, but trying to maintain their home “as is” forever is a sign of denial. Actually working on settling their estate can help with the grieving process. Effective coping tips for grieving can be different and numerous for each individual. Anything from working, hobbies, friends and family can help the grieving person regain a sense of normalcy in their lives. While the painful aspects of dealing with the loss of a loved one is clear, grieving sometimes leads to enhanced personal development.

The content provided in Causes of Insomnia Part1 Grief Cycle is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.

Here is a picture of my parents with me in 1956. RIP Dad we love you and will miss you.

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