Positive Impacts of the Grieving Process

May 11, 2017
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Grieving is one of the numerous natural processes of life. There is no way to stop grief from occurring, but there are many ways that people may experience the process. Although there is a universal process of grieving, there may be more or less steps depending on the person. Grieving may be mild or severe, and depending on this, different paths may be taken to help the victim. The cause to the grief may be evident or not at all evident, but either way, the victim usually knows or finds the cause to their grief. In the novel, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson and modern sources, the authors explore the effects of grieving on social maturity and growth.
Individuals do not mature in the primary stages of grief as shown in the novel Speak and in modern sources. The first two stages of grief can be classified as denial (one) and anger (two). The article “The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief” is written by Julie Axelrod containing and explaining each stage of grief. Julie Axelrod writes “The first reaction … is to deny the reality of the situation … [During the second stage,] intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected, and expressed instead as anger” (Axelrod 1). The first stage is when the victim tells themselves that the event did not happen or they refuse to bring the topic up. The cause of the grief is a rough topic for the victim which is why they will not talk about it. When they experience anger next, it is possible that it could be directed at something or someone. In the novel, Speak, the main character Melinda is going through grief. At the end of the summer, she was raped and now is faced with having to go to school. In school, all her ex- friends refuse to talk to her due to the reason that she called the police officers at the party where she was raped over the summer. At first, Melinda refuses to even bring up the subject, but then her denial turns into anger. The author writes “I make it through the first two weeks of school without a nuclear meltdown” (Anderson 14). This shows that Melinda is angry but she can hold her anger in. In addition, Melinda takes an art class with a teacher that she loves. When she creates her artwork, she can release some of her anger there. Melinda directs her anger towards herself when she “open[s] up a paperclip and scratch[es] it across the inside of [her] left wrist” (Anderson 87). She is harming herself on purpose because she is mad at herself for something that she should not be. It is not completely Melinda’s fault that she got raped, but she is making it seem like it is all her fault. The fact that Melinda does not bring up the subject proves that she is not mature. Victims of grief do not experience growth, but instead go through periods of misbelief and anger towards themselves and others in the beginning stages of grief.
   It is proven in Speak and in modern sources that victims start to mature and grow physically and emotionally in the third and fourth stages of grief. Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun co- wrote the article “Positive Aspects of Critical Life
Problems: Recollections of Grief,” which explains the effects or the grieving process. The third stage of grief is bargaining; when people tell themselves what they can do to make up for what happened. They may also tell themselves that if they did something else, they could have prevented the event. The fourth stage is depression; with depression comes regret and sad feelings. People may go into a deep depression and causes like ignorant friends would encourage this. During these two stages, people start “becoming stronger or wiser persons, exhibiting a greater degree of what might be called self-efficacy” (Calhoun and Tedeschi 266). This is clearly positive and progresses over time. In the novel, Melinda tells herself that if she said no, it would have ended differently, and this is an example of her bargaining. This can make her feel better and worse because she is blaming it on herself, but also tries to identify the cause. When Heather, Melinda’s only friend, defriends Melinda, she becomes depressed because she has no friend to talk to. Heather says “I think it’s time for us both to admit that we… just… are… very… different” (Anderson 105). This puts Melinda in a depression because she goes to having one friend to having no friends. Even though Melinda is left without a friend, she starts to mature because she can be herself and grow without being judged. She can be alone and mature by herself, which can happen at a quicker rate. This is because she has no person interrupting her. Victims start to experience positive changes during the middle of the grieving process.
The last step of grieving fosters the most growth and positive emotions for the victim. The ultimate stage of grief is acceptance; when the victims normally reach a period of calmness and being able to admit that the event has occurred. This stage can be confused with pure happiness, as it is just a stage of admittance and peace. It is not as the person just becomes happy out of nowhere, as they are still recovering. It is just a stage of relief and peacefulness. During this stage, “maturity [comes] when we accept the responsibility of a new and different life, depending more on ourselves and our decisions” (Sanders 94). Catherine Sanders wrote a book on the aftermath of grief and what it brings. Victims show the maturity and growth through their acceptance; in the beginning, the subject could not be spoken of, but by the end stages, they have come to accept what happened to them. Anderson shows Melinda’s acceptance when she writes “The tears dissolve the last block of ice still in my throat. I feel the frozen stillness melt down through the inside of me, dripping shards of ice that vanish in a puddle of sunlight on the stained floor. Words float up” (Anderson 128). Melinda is no longer “frozen” and can speak up about the subject of rape. She can finally come to accept that what happened to her was not her fault and she should not be depressed anymore. Melinda accepts what happened to her and can talk about it with people. She is not trapped inside of her body, not being able to express anything.  Her acceptance comes after her secret was revealed to many people that were not aware previously. By the end of the grieving process, strength and maturity is gained back after a long progression from a tragic event.
Grieving and its path brings positive changes to the victim involved. Although in the beginning, grief can seem negative, it proves to not be by the end. In the final stages of grief, the victim proves to be more mature and has a positive outcome of the event. They no longer have anger towards people and are no longer depressed. Many damaging events happen in life, and with all bad things that happen, there is always hope for happiness. Happiness may not come when it is expected to come, but there is always a possibility after a tragic event. Positive outcomes are not out of reach when people may think they are. With everything that happens, there is always hope for a positive outcome.
 






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