What Happens to Us When we go through the Grieving Process
Grief and sorrow may be part of the human condition, but there are actual changes to our brain that occurs during these times. For many, the loss of a pet can cause them to spiral into longer term grieving processes and this can create heightened levels of anxiety that actually alter our behavior and our reactions.
While we may try to address the extreme emotions that we feel at the passing of a beloved pet through pet memorials, services with pet cremation and even dog funerals, these are momentary methods to try to achieve a sense of closure that do not address the roller coaster of feelings that are happening.
The science of neurogenesis has discovered that the brain of the adult continues to produce new neurons in some of the brain areas. The hippocampus portion of the brain is critical for memory and learning and is actually linked to mood and emotion. These researchers have discovered that while there are some activities that boost the hippocampus activity in neurogenesis, sadness and grieving can spiral into depression and that can cause a halt to the neurogenesis. Repeated depression episodes can cause some of the brain areas to shrink.
When we remain in the state of grief and sorrow we are overwhelmed with emotions. This can take its toll on our daily activities and our focus. Loss support group counselors advise attendees to pay attention to the little things to avoid problems. These can include everything from being aware of your body with mindfulness before you stand up to avoid falling to giving extra attention in your driving habits to other cars and pedestrians. Automotive insurance companies have statistics that have shown that after a loss, there is an increase in auto accidents for those that are grieving.
While many cultures seem to have maintained an attitude that those that are grieving would rather be left alone, this is not only incorrect, but can be harmful to the individual experiencing their sorrow. Having the right kind of companionship around you can help to uplift and reduce the potential of long term depression. They encourage both exercise and companionship as the key elements to help those that are grieving get through the process. This means that when you have lost a beloved pet, make sure that you surround yourself with those individuals that completely understand what you are going through. Avoid people that are discouraging or complaining that you are dragging out the process. There is never any time limit on grief and it's a very personal thing.
High levels of stress hormones over long periods of time can lead people into a state of depression. To counteract the hormones and help towards recovery, many researchers have found that even simple touch by loved ones can help. This is especially beneficial for those that feel that they simply can’t talk about their grief experience.