The death of a loved one can be one of the more traumatic yet inevitable events in one’s life. Such a tragedy brings with it a slew of (or, in some cases, a complete lack of) emotions that can be difficult to process. Denial is a coping mechanism that many people naturally turn to in cases of severe stress. However, as healthy as early denial can be, letting it fester can be damaging.
Admitting you are in denial can be incredibly difficult. After all, denial’s entire purpose is to prevent you from recognizing the problem, thus it can be difficult to accept it is there. There are a number of warning signs that can help you recognize when you or someone you love might be facing denial.
One major warning sign is when you just avoid the problem entirely. You might refuse to discuss the hardship you’re experiencing. When dealing with the death of a loved one this can manifest in a number of ways. It may include refusing to take part in or consider funeral arrangements, not talking about the deceased at all, or refusing to manage affairs left behind.
This sort of avoidance is understandable in the early stages, but affairs including funeral arrangements are often time-sensitive matters. If you cannot deal with these affairs yourself it is useful to find somebody to help. This can be a challenge, as refusing to admit these things need to be done in a timely manner or convincing yourself you have it handled can be part of the problem, but consulting with family members is a great way to share the burden that comes from death in the family.
This can be especially common with emotional trauma. This form of denial rejects that there is a problem at all. While one cannot deny the death of a family member (except in cases where the family member is missing – but that is another topic), one can deny the impact it has. The most common way of denying a problem exists as it relates to death is to deny that you are emotionally affected by it.
This form of denial can be justified in many ways – a belief in one’s own personal resilience, perhaps justifying it with a dislike of the deceased, maybe just thinking you’re too busy to grieve. Whatever the excuse, the end result is the same and those emotions need to be dealt with at some point. Even if it’s just a matter of taking a day to rage at the world.
It can be challenging to handle denial – its very nature makes it difficult to recognize in the first place. However, denial can sap motivation and make it impossible to deal with problems before they become catastrophic. When this comes to the death of a loved one this could mean unpaid bills piling up, fines accumulated, and other debts that somebody is going to have to take care of.
Resolving this problem usually comes down to talking it out with the people who are also impacted by it, sharing your thoughts and feelings without a filter. By doing so, you will be able to better come to terms with the tragedy, and take the necessary steps to move forward. Other options to take seriously include professional counseling, grief groups, and church resources.