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Survey about the Long-term Effects of Grief and Loss

In April, 2011, Slate asked their readers to respond to a survey about grief and loss. Apparently the idea struck a nerve, as nearly 10,000 people responded. The results included the following:

  • 78 percent of the respondents were females (which could suggest that more females read Slate or that more women feel free to discuss issues around grief and loss).
  • 33 percent of the respondents had lost a loved one eight or more years ago, "suggesting the continual presence of loss."
  • 60 percent of the respondents dreamt about the lost loved one.
  • Only 7 percent of mourners felt it was "completely true" that they received adequate support from others.
  • Nearly 30 percent felt alone with their grief most of the time.
  • 13 percent said they felt alone in their grief all of the time.
  • Nearly 25 percent said they "never went back to feeling like themselves after their loss"; another 25 percent said they felt normal only "one to two years" after the loss.

After analyzing the statistics, the authors made the following observations:

  • "One of the hardest aspects of mourning is feeling that one's own grief is somehow not 'normal,' or has gone unrecognized."
  • "Many respondents wanted to explain how 'uncomfortable' (a word that appeared over and over) they felt their grief had made others [feel] …. The responses seem to suggest both an expectation [from others] that [grievers] should grieve a little and the concurrent desire that the mourner should not grieve too much."
  • In pondering "why recognition from others is so important" in the grieving process, the authors conclude: "It may be as simple as our human need to feel we are not alone when grief gets unbearable."

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