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Why You May Practice Avoidance During Grief August 5, 2021

Woman looking down grieving in sunlit room

Avoidance is stopping yourself from doing or experiencing something. Of course, it is understandable to avoid dangerous situations where harm could come to you. You may even wish to avoid circumstances that make you feel uncomfortable or ones you may feel that you don’t have control over. While avoidance can be a useful, natural tool to help keep you safe and comfortable, there are situations we face that may be unavoidable. One of these is the death of a loved one or someone you are close to and the grief that may follow. Do you find that you practice avoidance during grief?

Experiential avoidance is a person’s attempt to bypass or suppress internal emotions, thoughts, and sensations. This “disconnect” from internal experiences could lead to unhealthy behaviors ranging from alcohol abuse to self-harm. The resulting trauma can range from mild to severe. PTSD is an example of experiential avoidance that can reach traumatic levels.

At its core, avoidance in grief is practiced because grief is an unpleasant feeling. This is, on one hand, completely understandable, while on the other, not necessarily healthy.

People grieving may practice avoidance for one or more reasons. They may feel they lack the coping skills necessary to deal with grief, especially with others present. They may just feel they are unable to handle it. They may feel grief is unpredictable and may be overwhelming. They likely have been witness to or perhaps even experienced negative emotions in the past that were extremely unpleasant.

Grief avoidance can be practiced in many ways. The grieving person may avoid contact with others, or reject any form of help or assistance. They may avoid reaching out to others who are grieving or attempt to distract themselves. They may increase alcohol abuse.

Grief avoidance can be unhealthy mentally and physically. It may lead to a person not taking proper care of themselves. It could be costly to previously valuable relationships. Some grief avoidance may be useful however when trying to figure out how to sort through one’s emotions.

The bottom line is that while it is to some degree natural and understandable to seek solitude in grief, avoidance can be harmful when drawn out. If you or someone you care about is avoiding others at what appears to be an unhealthy level, don’t be afraid to get the grief support you need. Help is available, accessible, and can be extremely valuable.

At Fares J. Radel Funeral Homes and Crematory, we have been assisting families through the grieving process in Northern Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati area for generations. We have seen grief expressed in many forms, always uniquely.

While pre-planning or in current need, our caring staff is hee by your side. Need assistance? We encourage you to reach out.

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