In response to the letter "Grieving Is a Process That Is Necessary for Healing' (May 17):
We thank Dr. Lillian Meyers for her insights and commentary. We agree that grief can change someone forever, that grieving is a process and more like a journey than a destination, that grief is never "fixed" and that support groups may be very helpful.
In the research we are conducting mentioned in the May 5 article "Some Grief Is Tough to Beat," we want to clarify some key points.
1) Eighty percent of grievers seem to proceed with the grieving process on their own. But months after the loss, about 20 percent of individuals can become stuck in their grief, which prevents them from functioning in most spheres of life -- saying things like "I feel stunned or dazed," "I have lost the ability to care for others" or "I think about him/her constantly and can't get anything done." These and similar statements can be uttered for years after a death has occurred. This is the subgroup our team is focusing on.
2) There is preliminary research suggesting that certain medications can help to reduce anxiety, ruminative thinking and depression in those with complicated grief in a similar way that inhaler medication helps someone having an asthma attack to immediately improve breathing before beginning the search for allergenic triggers.
3) We hope that our careful research will help those who feel stuck to no longer feel trapped or hemmed in by their grief such that they have the opportunity to turn more of their attention to other areas of interest in their personal lives.
CHARLES F. REYNOLDS, M.D., MARK D. MILLER, M.D.
Healing Emotions After Loss (HEAL) Study
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic