About Grief and Bereavement
At some point, we are likely to experience the grief of losing someone we love or something we care Loss and death are an inevitable part of life. To feel shocked, numb, angry, and sad form part of the natural grieving process.
What is Grief?
Grief is the pain of loosing someone or something we really care about. We may experience and feel a lot of things including shock, feeling numb, anger and deep sadness. All of which are a natural part of the grieving process which we will explain in more detail below.
What is Bereavement?
According to Dictionary.com:
“Bereavement is a period of mourning or or state of intense grief, especially following the death of a loved one. Bereavement is often a process that includes going through several stages of grief. Bereavement can also be used more generally to mean the state of having lost something very dear.”
What can cause grief?
We could experience grief when we lose someone, or something, close to us. It could be any of the following:
- Death of a loved one
- Children moving away
- Personal Injury/illness
- Moving home
- End of relationship
- Death of a pet
What are the signs and symptoms of grief?
Some of the most common symptoms including:
Feeling shock and numb – This is usually the first reaction to loss. People often describe feeling in a daze. However, feeling numb or freezing as it is often called is nature’s way of protecting us from the intensity of the pain that we could experience.
Overwhelming sadness and hurt.
Anger for a number of reasons even guilt
What is Complicated grief?
When grieving becomes complicated people feel unable to try and get back to whatever normal is. There is usually something about the experience that leaves the person who has been bereaved feeling stuck trying to cope with the emotional impact of their grieving.
Most researchers agree that complicated grief might begin to be identifiable in a person’s grieving experience from around 6 months after a bereavement, but this isn’t a rule, as each experience of grief will be unique.
Physical Symptoms of grief
- Loss of appetite or your appetite could increase as you comfort eat
- Using alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings
- a hollow feeling in your stomach
- tightness in your chest or throat
- oversensitivity to noise
- difficulty breathing
- feeling very tired and weak
- a lack of energy
- finding it hard to sleep or fear of sleeping
aches and pains.
We each have our own ways of coping with our grief and loss, but some find it unmanageable, others turn to drink, drugs and other risky behaviours.
If we pretend those feelings don’t exist or we suppress them in different ways, those losses can unfortunately leave us with long term difficulties and emotional scars including mental health issues.
What are the stages of bereavement, grief and loss?
Shock and denial
You may react to learning about the loss with disbelief. You may feel numb, you can’t cry or allow yourself to feel the enormity of what has happened to you.
Pain and guilt
As the shock begins to wear off, it is exchanged with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although agonizing and almost unbearable, it is very important that you fully experience this pain, and not pretend it’s not there. Or avoid or escape it with drugs and alcohol.
You may also have feelings of guilt over things you did or didn’t do.
Anger and bargaining
Feelings of guilt may give way to feelings of anger. Anger could show itself in a variety of ways. Some people internalise their anger and feel rage inside. That rage can turn to self-harming behaviours, negative self-talk etc. The anger can also be externalised to other people where the anger is verbal, physical and emotional.
You could also question what happened saying “why me?” You may also try to bargain your way out of your despair (“I will never drink again if you just bring her back”)
Depression, reflection, loneliness
People may thing that you are getting on with your life. You, on the other hand, could be going through a long period of sad reflection, which is overtaking you. It is ok to go through this stage as it is normal. Don’t let yourself or others talk you out of this stage. Don’t try to just “pull yourself together”.
It is at this time you may realise the truth of your loss and it will depress you. You may deliberately isolate yourself where you will reflect on the things you did with what you have lost and focus on things of the past. You may also have feelings of emptiness and despair.
As you allow yourself to go through the painful stages and your life becomes a bit calmer. Your depression will start to lift.
Reconstruction & working through
As you start to become more functional and your mind starts getting back to normal again, you will find that you start to sort out the problems caused from the loss you have experienced. For example, you may start to work on the financial and the practical difficulties then start working out your life without them.
Acceptance & hope
This is the final stage. At this point you will have moved to a position of acceptance where you realise that life must go on. Whilst you may still think about the person or object that you have lost, these thoughts may become less painful and less often. This will help you to gain back your motivation and energy.
It often takes a long time to reach this stage as you can’t hurry through the previous stages.
How can counselling & psychotherapy help with bereavement or grief?
Counselling can be very beneficial to help you come to terms with loss. If it is the death of someone you loved, losing your job, moving home, children leaving home.
I can help you through the grieving process, by:
- Helping you to deal with those painful, often confusing emotions.
- Supporting you through the stages of grief
- Help you to create a life for yourself that is right for you
I offer a safe space to explore your feelings in a confidential and safe environment and can support you, either on a short or long-term basis, through this difficult time.
Call me now or complete my online booking form to make an appointment with me
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I am a Therapist based in Sutton Coldfield, UK also available online.
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