Human loss: the mind’s view

As the very sad news comes in from Japan, it’s worthwhile to consider how humans cope with loss. The manifestation of grief eventually arrives to each of our subjective personal experiences. This month two very close professional colleagues lost their spouses to cancer. Once the ceremonies and family reunions are over, the human mind (and brain) is all to often left alone in a sea of grief-inducing neurochemicals.

When mass tragedy hits, as it has in Japan, entire societies can enter this state; it’s as if the grief brain-state is cooperative (to use the biochemical metaphor) across individuals.

The human and societal grief-induced behavior pattern can be catastrophic. But often it is not. Individual humans are remarkably resilient and so are strong societies, such as the Japanese. Over time, the brain stabilizes, families and nations can come together, and life goes on.

We hope as much for our friends who have recently suffered loss and to our colleagues in Japan.