Denial in Grief:
As humans, we all have a tendency to deny things that we do not like.
For anyone who suffers from the diseases of addiction and / or mental illness; denial is a major component of the disease.
It is the same with grief. When we lose someone we love or something that we love - there is a natural tendency to NOT want to believe it has occurred.
My own definition of denial is:
"Denial takes the truth and sets it aside, so that we can function." *
Not all denial is bad. There are times and circumstances in which denial can be beneficial and even necessary for an individual to continue to function.
However, denial in relation to grief usually leads to negative consequences or negative outcomes.
Here are just a few ways that denial may manifest itself in relation to the death of a loved one.
I. Denial of the Reality of the Death:
A. "There must be some mistake, I just saw him/her
a few hours ago."
B. "It wasn't really him / her, it was a case of
C. Children and some adults may deny the
irreversibility of the death - "they will be
II. Denial of the Meaning of the Death:
A. "We really weren't that close, I won't really miss
them that much."
B. "He wasn't a very good dad anyway. It's no big
C. "I won't really miss my brother / sister - all we
did was fight anyway."
III. Actions of Denial in Grief:
A. "Mummification" - Geoffrey Gorer ** described
this as keeping the person's room and
belongings exactly as they were when the
person died - as if they will one day
B. "Reverse Mummification" - would be when
someone quickly gets rid of all things that
belonged to the one who died.
This can be either packing things up for
storage or selling things that cause the
grieving person to be reminded of the one
C. "Minimizing the Loss: (this is the same as
section II above.)
D. "Hope of Reunification" - for someone to have
hope of reunification with a loved one in the
here and now is normal.
However, when that normal hope becomes
Chronic Hope, it leaves the person stuck on
Task One indefinitely.
The reality of the loss must be accepted on an intellectual level and on an emotional level if the person is to come to successful resolution of grief and mourning.
* Jeff Marshall, SAW, GC-C
** G. D. Gorer "Death, Grief and Mourning" (1965)
Doubleday , New York