Halloween kicks off Allhallowtide, a time dedicated to remembering the dead celebrated in many countries around. For example, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico while All Souls’ Day is observed by some Native American and Latin American societies with roots in Christianity. Both traditions honor deceased loved ones with rituals and public mourning. These traditions of remembering the dead date back many years, sometimes thousands of years as in the case of Day of the Dead, which dates back 2500-3000 years.
People experience grief in many different ways across the world and this is especially true for children and adolescents. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, an American Psychiatrist, proposed in 1969 the five stages of grief that are thought to be universal and they include:
- Denial & Isolation: This is typically the initial reaction that helps absorb the shock of the loss and protect our psych from the intense feelings of associated with a loss.
- Anger: This intense emotion follows once the reality of the situation sets in and we are faced with resentment towards the situation that is causing us pain.
- Bargaining: This stage is an attempt to regain control of the situation and feelings of helplessness and vulnerability by making deals with high powers.
- Depression: Sadness and regret take hold in this stage where we begin to realize the implications of the situation.
- Acceptance: This stage is not about forgetting but rather remembering loved ones as they were and celebrating their life rather than focusing on their death.
The above stages of grief don’t necessarily occur in any particular order but are commonly seen by counselors working with people who have lost loved ones. Our counselors at Intuition Wellness Center are trained at working with youth, adults, and families experiencing grief. Lastly, it is important to mention that experiencing grief is a normal part of life, some would say an existential given, and does not imply that there is a psychological problem unless there is a presence of significant symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness, suicidal ideas, and impairment in overall functioning that might suggest a larger problem than the normal response to a significant loss.
There are a two upcoming All Souls Processions in Tucson on November 8th (For kids) and 9th (Grand Finale) that may be of interest for those wanting to experience this long-held tradition. Here are some additional resources for those experiencing grief:
- American Psychological Association on Coping with the loss of your loved one.
- American Academy of Children & Adolescent Psychiatry on Children and Grief.
- Tu Ninito Children and Family Services provides support for children and families whose lives have been impacted by a serious medical condition or death.
Written by: Yoendry Torres, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist