There are many times when the tragedies strike, and if they are given attention by the mass media, the public tends to show compassion to the victims by sending them messages of condolence. However, it is only when a tragedy affects you personally that you realize the magnitude of grief that comes along with it. There is a saying “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”, and this kind of unwritten rules led to the fact that most people are expected by the society to cope with the loss of their own. Furthermore, due to the fast pace of our lives, the grieving ones are obliged to get over their sorrow quite quickly. Judging by this fact, there are many people, who live traumatized lives, and find it difficult to deal with their personal losses, which, in turn, has led to increase in the number of people depressed and the ones that need professional assistance and support to deal with their sorrow.
For many people, when somebody you love passes away, it is overwhelming, and this might be even worse, when it is one of your relatives. It was unfortunate that just like many other people I also had to live with the experience of loosing someone close. It was a very sad occurrence, which has all along remained fresh in my mind. The official wedding ceremony was already over and we were having our meals. All over a sudden, there was an explosion from the room, where the tents were pitched. There was a very thick cloud of smoke that was rising from the point of the blast, and it covered the entire area. The fire spread so fast, and within no time, all the four tents were on fire. There were screams, as people choked in the smoke, and others had their clothes catch fire. Everyone was in panic, as people run back and forth in a confused manner. It was not easy to tell whether one was running away from the fire or towards it. In fact, I think this is what made most of the victims get trapped inside the fire. Even though the fire brigade arrived quite fast, they were not able to rescue all of the people, who were stuck inside. I lost thirty relatives during this tragedy, the closest and the dearest of them all was my little niece aged only eleven. That was particularly tragic event for me personally, and at first, it was difficult to overcome the feeling of grief. I could not believe what I was seeing; it was as though I was in a bad dream. Besides the casualties, there was an uncountable loss of valuable assets.
However, the most sorrowful was the loss of my niece, she was an amazing little girl, and she was so young and deserved many more years to live. Aged only eleven, she had developed an extraordinary attachment to me. However, friends and family members were able to comfort each other and this helped to share the grief. Even though it was a greatly difficult experience at some moment, I was able to let it go and came to get my inner peace. However, before that, I had a very hard time accepting what had happened and even sometimes, I thought it would have been better if I was the one who died in the tragedy. Secondly, I felt helpless for not being able to do anything about my state and the emotions I was going through. Moreover, I had the feeling of helplessness, because I was unable to do anything about the grief for the ones I love.
Thus, it was a very difficult loss for me; nevertheless, I realized that the process of wallowing should finish at one point or another, and I must be ready to deal with it. Therefore, I started out by talking to my parents and sharing my feelings with them. Afterwards, I shared my feelings with my siblings, to whom I talked and tried to support them in any way I could. I realized that during that time, the most important thing was to feel their presence around me. I tried to analyze the attachment that grew between my niece and me and the way I felt like I have lost a kid of my own and I can sadly admit that it was the most difficult part of the recovery process. I suppose that this is one of the survival mechanisms developed by the nature that an adult has an inborn desire to protect small children and, therefore, the part of the grievance that I felt was connected to that. Secondly, I think that because of my close relationships with siblings, I had partially developed parental link to my niece. Furthermore, my sibling being one of the closest people to me was the one I felt most connected to and the one I believed needed the most support.
I will now discuss one developmental theory of psychology that explains my experience. Developmental theories are those that seek to explain the situations that are important for the development to happen. These theories are normally linked to specific situations. I will focus on the theory of attachment in the developmental psychology, which was developed by J. Bowlby and M. Ainsworth. The two scholars sought to explain the manner, in which people feel attached to their loved ones, and actually they become distressed when they are placed apart. Moreover, they used the case of children to further explain their theory. According to Ainsworth, there are different levels of attachment that people develop towards others. There are people, who are comfortable when they part with their loved ones, but others become stressed and their productivity is very low at such a time (Bowlby & Ainswort, 1992). The same case happens among children. The psychologists observed the change of behavior in children when they are with their mothers, and when they are separated from them and introduced to strangers. They have also observed the ways they behave when they are later re-united with their mothers. It is found out that some children will cry a lot when they are separated from their mothers, while others would not. Actually, some children will be very comfortable to interact with strangers. All this depends on the level and style of attachment.
Ainsworth explained that there were three major techniques of attachment: secure, insecure avoidant, and insecure ambivalent. In secure attachment, the child will have the signs of grief if he or she is separated from his or her mother (Bowlby & Ainswort, 1992). In case of insecure ambivalent attachment, the child will have extreme signs of grief, because of being separated from his/her mother. However, in the insecure avoidant category, the child is very comfortable when separated from his/her mother and is quite calm in the presence of a stranger.
They two psychologists grew interest in the link between mother’s loss or deprivation and personality development. It turns out that deprivation of mother’s care later on in life turned into the problems in forming the relationships with people and developing them into close ties. The closeness of children to mother can influence the attachments that people form later on in their lives, as far as people project their relationships with mother on any future bonds that they form either with people they love or the ones they perceive to be friendly (Bowlby & Ainswort, 1992). Therefore, if a person forms close relationships with mother, they later on project this kind of bond on the relationships with close people and their relatives. Moreover, this sets the pattern for further ties between mother and children, in this case, a previous child being in the role of a mother.
I suppose that I projected my possible mother-daughter relationships onto the connection that I formed with my niece, and I think that at some moments, I was more overprotective then I should have been. I believe that this closeness and this type of bond caused me to encounter great difficulties struggling and coping with the loss (Bowlby & Ainswort, 1992). Furthermore, due to the bond that had developed between my niece and me, I felt a greater guilt for not protecting her and for being the one, who survived. I realized that the tragedy made me feel disappointed, because of the projection I had in my mind about the relationship of a parent and a child. Furthermore, this kind of grief was more difficult to get over without outside help or support.
Therefore, to sum it up, the loss of close person, in particular my niece, has caused me to reexamine my relationships with my parents and siblings as well. What is more, I have come to conclude that it was so difficult to move on due to the projected mother and daughter relationships, on the connection that we had with her. Finally, I suppose that this kind of loss was a catalyst in the changes in my personality and personal life.
- American Psychological Association. (2014). Grief: Coping with the Loss of the Loved One APA. Retrieved March 6, 2014, from: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/grief.aspx
- Bowlby, J., Ainswort, M. (1992, September). The origins of attachment theory. Bretherton, Inge Developmental Psychology, Vol 28(5), Sep 1992, 759-775.