some time in our lives most of us have experienced the loss of
something dear to us, however, death is not often discussed openly.
All people grieve in their own way after any sort of loss, but
this is usually felt most significantly after the death of someone
we love. Grieving is often described as an intense feeling of
sorrow and experienced as a process of stages. Many people say
that they need to commemorate the loss of someone or something
by way of a formal funeral process. This can help make our loss
seem more real and make it easier for us to accept what has happened,
if only in the short term.
experience of grief is unique and therefore nobody can completely
'understand' what you are going through, however people who have
been bereaved tend to experience common emotions even if there
is some variation in the way that these are experienced. How you
view and cope with your loss will depend on a number of factors,
including previous losses, culture, religion and family support
available to you.
common emotion that many people feel is guilt in response to bereavement.
People find themselves going over in their minds all the things
they would have liked to have said or done with the loved one
they have lost. They may even consider what they could have done
differently and that they might have prevented the death. Some
people may feel guilty if they are relieved that the individual
has died following an illness. This feeling of relief is natural,
understandable and very common.
people often feel agitated, angry or vengeful after the death
of someone. This tends to be experienced at its peak a couple
of weeks following the bereavement and is followed by sadness
and sometimes depression. It can feel as though our emotions are
changing from one day to the next, which can be distressing and
confusing for the sufferer.
Bereavement can also cause physical reactions including sleeplessness,
loss of energy and loss of appetite and common thoughts such as:
'I can't believe it'; 'Why did it have to happen?'; 'If only';
'life has no meaning, I can't go on'; 'What if I forget them';
and 'people must see how much I miss them'.
Stages of Grief
are common stages that are experienced by people when they are
bereaved. There is no set timescale for reaching these stages,
but it can help to know what the stages are and that intense emotions
and swift changes in mood are normal. You may experience some
overlap between the stages, which is totally normal.
The following stages have been identified by psychiatrist and
researcher Elizabeth Kübler-Ross. She originally applied
these stages to people suffering from terminal illness, and later
to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom
and the death of a loved one). The stages are:
Denial - This
is when the recently bereaved person cannot accept what has happened
to them. They might sometimes even forget what has happened and
constantly refer to the person/pet as still being with them. This
is usually a temporary defence that people use to cope.
Anger - Once
the sufferer has acknowledged what has happened they may start
to feel angry with themselves, the deceased, other people around
them and if they are religious, their god. People might also start
to look for people to blame. Common thoughts in this stage include:
'Why me? It's not fair!'; 'How can this happen to me?'
This third stage relates to people who are terminally ill and
involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or
delay death. Psychologically, the person is saying, 'I understand
I will die, but if I could just have more time...'
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand
what has happened is happening to them. The recently bereaved
may start to isolate themselves from family and friends and spend
much of the time crying and grieving. This is considered an important
stage for grief to be processed.
This final stage signifies the moment that the bereaved individual
accepts what has happened cannot be changed and is able to consider
ways of moving forward with his or her life.
or Unhealthy Grief
grief comes when the ultimate goal and stage of acceptance has
not been reached after a significant period of time. Sometimes,
the grieving process is especially difficult. Some find it impossible
to acknowledge the bereavement at all, which can mean that their
feelings are not worked through properly. This can sometimes happen
if you don't have time to grieve properly, perhaps because you
are too busy focusing on making sure the other people in your
life are managing adequately.
It is important to remember that there is no 'standard' way of
grieving. We are all individuals and have our own particular ways
of grieving. We do what comes naturally to us at the time. However,
during the process of grief some people can become 'stuck' and
will feel like they 'can't move forward' with their lives. If
this is occurring many years after the bereavement and or is significantly
impairing your ability to function on a day to day basis, you
may need to consider seeking help.
Unresolved grief can produce depression, loss of appetite and
suicidal thoughts. According to Mind (the National Association
for Mental Health), you are more likely to have a difficult grieving