by Dr. Benjaporn Anusornpornperm

A psychiatrist, Vichaiyut Hospital

In the time of grave sorrow for the Thais, since the day of an announcement of His Majesty the King Rama IX’s passing, both Thai people across the country and those living around the world have sunk into deep grief until today.

Because His Majesty the King is the center of loyalty and faith of Thai people, thus it is normal that the Thai should be hurt by this incident. For seventy years that the whole country has been bound to him by love, faith, and loyalty. The act of crying and other expression of grief such as gathering by wayside to pay respect when there was a procession of relocating His Majesty the King’s cadaver from the hospital to the Grand Palace, doing other activities together are tangible evidence of their feeling towards their King. Though the overall ambience will probably enhance sadness, but expression of sorrow is a good way to keep your mind at ease and your nerve healthy”, said Dr. Benjaporn Anusornpornperm, a psychiatrist at Vichaiyut Hospital.

Generally, humans already have mental reaction for their loss during a period of three months or 100 days, approximately.  According to a set of theories of Dr.Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and other psychologists, there are five stages of mental reaction for loss throughout such period. They are:

1) Shocking and Denial – The patient will feel numb and feel nothing for a while or sometimes cannot identify himself / herself and being too stressful to enumerate all incidents which occurred to him / her and others. Such symptom normally stays for 24 hours. After that the patient will get better or in turn get worse according to how severe is such loss.

2) Anger –There will be question like these: “Why this incident happens to me?” O r “Why doesn’t it happen to other people?” Sometimes it is finding fault with others such as one’s thought that the doctor’s wrong diagnosis or these resentful events are caused by others.  Another example is blaming intangible things like God or heaven. But the most frequent symptoms are anger towards oneself. Such fury is harmless. It is just a common reaction of humans to their losses.

3) Bargaining – This act is done to hearten oneself when he/she cannot accept what happen like the idea that “this is not the time of event like this to happen, why it wouldn’t happen when everything is alright”, including any effort to regain confidence such as if one thinks that the doctor has a wrong diagnosis or doing the treatment incorrectly.  In fact, such losses preclude or recompense, because it happens due to the Law of Kamma (or “Karma” in Sanskrit).

4) Depression – Depression occurred when there is a thought that difficulties the patient is facing cannot be cured, so he/she will feel hopeless. It is a normal sensation during this period and cannot define as pain. The only thing we have to be aware of is those who are overwhelming by sadness have possibility to harm themselves or others.

5) Acceptance – As the time elapses, sorrow will decrease, whereas mindfulness will arise. If these unite with the knowledge that such loss cannot be retrieved, the patient will finally accept the truth.  The five stages aforementioned, aside from using to remedy grief occurred from the loss of the loved ones. We can adapt this method to apply to loss of other valuable things such as loving things, relationship, fame, working position, honour, money, health or even internal attribute and self image.

When the patient enters a stage of acceptance, he/she can live in the present, leading a daily life, having mental adjustment, having happiness and a good health, and see the world as it really is. These could be count that the deprived has learned something that they accept to be is just a general human reaction. On the contrary, if he / she could not adjust to the loss, his or her mental condition may develop into mental illness such as inability to leading the daily life, feeling gloomy, being crestfallen, having no zest in contacting with other people or having desire to die which probably leads to an actual suicide. All these symptoms should be diagnosed and cured by a psychiatrist’s advice urgently in order to prevent any harm which might happen and for sad people to be remedy.

Furthermore, Dr. Benjaporn has given some advices to guide the way about living through this phase with mindfulness:

  • Avoid being in any environs and situation which have potential to induce too much grief.
  • Live your daily life as always, have a sufficient amount of sleep, and have your meals adequately each day.
  • Give yourself relaxation by doing physical exercise or find another activity which brings you peace and bliss.
  • Consume data from the media with awareness and in adequate amount.

For the mental patients, it is necessary to take care of them specifically during this sorrowful period, for the aforementioned factors may influence severity of their symptoms. This includes the elders who have chronic ailments. They need protection from traumatic matters and stress, because they can affect their physical health.

            Though sadness attacks us, everyone can forestall it and be free from suffering. This will be done by thinking positively and taking turn in encouraging each other.  Inheriting the royal determination of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej by means of incorporating them into your way of life from now on is another way of changing your sadness into strength as the late King himself had ever said in his speech at Thammasat Auditorium on Saturday March, 7th, 1970 in Thammasat University that “When you are outside facing sunlight and rain, if your physical health is alright, it will help you to be stronger.  Your mind likewise when it encounters with obstacle and disgusting thing, you will be resented by it, but if your minds are firm and unshakable. Such obstacle will help elevating you willpower and courage.  Things which make you irritating cannot harm you. On the contrary it will improve your mind.