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Fishermen Wellness: Grief

Loss happens; grief follows.

By Greg Marley, LCSW

Clinical Director NAMI Maine


No one escapes loss; it visits us regularly throughout our lives. The loss of a friendship, a boy or girlfriend, the loss of a beloved pet or a job. Some might call these little losses, but the grief they trigger can feel, at times, and for some, overwhelming. Think of a teenager and the breakup of their first serious relationship.


When the loss is of someone known or loved deeply, the grief is deeper, it can be all-encompassing and can consume all of your energy and focus.


Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in something that is known and familiar. Though often most associated with sadness and longing, grief can include a wide range of feelings, from anger to despair to even relief. The relief might be part of the grief for a death at the end of prolonged suffering.


Grief after a death is the body, the mind and the heart letting go of the person’s physical presence in your life. We do not forget but slowly adjust. When the death happens at the natural end of a lifespan, it is often easier, especially if there was time to say goodbye. A death that is sudden and unexpected makes for a more difficult grief; no time to say goodbye and no warning; grieving takes longer. If the death is from an overdose or a suicide, grieving is often long and complicated. There is a wide range of feelings, often including anger and a torment of unanswerable questions during the process.


We each grieve in our own way and on our own timeline. It depends on our relationship with the deceased, our past history of loss and our general mental health and supports. There are many pathways through grief. Some will grieve alone, greeting the rising sun and talking with the departed. Many need to talk with someone about their feelings and their relationship with the deceased and revisit stories of their life and of their dying. Some may need and seek out the support of a grief group or a grief counselor, especially if their grief interferes with their return to normal functioning. And for some, their loss leads to isolation, depression, drinking, substance use and they cannot find their way back without help.


Support the people in your life who may be grieving, allow them time to grieve, and the support needed to grieve in their own way.


Resources


A note from MCFA staff: Fishermen Wellness is a new on-going series by NAMI Clinical Staff. Each week a new topic will be featured pertaining to mental health and wellness for fishermen. We hope that this information is helpful to fishermen during COVID-19 and also under regular circumstances. Thank you to the clinical staff at NAMI for their support and insight during this time. Together, we persevere.

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An industry-based nonprofit that identifies and fosters ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine's fishing communities for future generations. 

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