Bereavement and Loss
Understanding Bereavement and Loss.
Loss and bereavement are an inevitable part of life. Grief is a natural, yet painful response to loss. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain and express your emotions in ways that allow you to heal.
Different types of Bereavement and Loss.
You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including the loss of a relationship, your health, your job, or a cherished dream. After a significant loss, you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. These are normal reactions to a significant loss.
Common symptoms of grief
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith and the nature of the loss. If the death is sudden or by suicide you may experience a lot of mixed emotions. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually, it cannot be forced or hurried and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Whatever your grief experience, it is important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.” These are Denial: Anger: Bargaining: Depression and Acceptance
If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you will heal in time. However, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal and if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably will not experience them in a neat, sequential order.
Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief.
While loss affects people in different ways.
Many experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving
Shock and disbelief
Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal, including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.
The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving.
How can Counselling help?
Bereavement counselling can help reduce the level of distress and help you adjust to life without the deceased.
The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but it shouldn’t remain centre stage. If the pain of the loss is so constant and severe that it keeps you from resuming your life, you may be suffering from a condition known as complicated grief. Complicated grief is like being stuck in an intense state of mourning. You may have trouble accepting the death long after it has occurred or be so preoccupied with the person who died that it disrupts your daily routine and undermines your other relationships.
In addition where the loss is hidden and not acknowledged publically due to perceived social stigma this may result in disenfranchised grief. Disenfranchised grief is described as losses in the mourner’s life that are not socially sanctioned. In counselling the gap caused by the loss of communication with others can be filled.