Grief and Bereavement

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The time that immediately follows the death of a loved one can be very distressing. Bereavement is something that we all experience at some stage of our lives, but not often, therefore we do not get much opportunity to learn how to deal with it. Everybody reacts differently to the loss of someone close. Grieving is a natural process which ever way it is manifested. The time that immediately follows the death can be filled with a stunned belief even if the death was not totally unexpected.

Sometimes it is not until later that the emotional feelings reveal themselves. Some people need to actually see the body of the deceased in order for the death to register in their minds. Other people would rather not see the body if this is the case then it is recommended that they do not.1 Sometimes it is best to remember your loved ones the way they were.

The funeral itself often brings a feeling of closure. The person is now at rest forever and life goes on. Some people will experience grief for many years after the death, particularly if the death was unexpected. Some people never fully recover but learn to cope with their loss instead. After a death it is natural to feel angry, perhaps toward the medical staff or the doctors who were trying to prevent the death. You may feel anger toward other members of the family. It is even possible that you would feel anger toward the person who has died.2 Anger can be expressed in many ways, but usually it is expressed openly and verbally. When the anger is verbalized, one may listen supportively, even if these emotions appear irrational. Anger after bereavement is understandable, and individuals who vent anger usually are not in the position to examine irrationality. Simply saying ‘’I understand’’ may be an effective way of helping the bereaved develop an understanding of his anger.3

Another common emotion is guilt. The bereaved are always likely to go over and over in their minds the days leading up to the death, wondering what they could have done to prevent it. This emotion is especially true when the death is due to an accident. Bereaving people who are experiencing this emotion should be reminded that death is beyond their control and nothing they could have done would have prevented it.4

The Closer the relationship, the more chance for guilt to be a part of the response.5 With members of ...

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...’pull yourself together’’. It is also important to understand why bereaving people keep going over the same ground, saying the same things over and over and becoming repeatedly distressed. This is an important part of the grieving process an should be encouraged.

When we love someone and they die, it can feel devastating. This seems to be a universal part of our human experience. We make friends whom we go to school with and work with. It is part of our makeup to form strong bonds of caring and affection with other people. The forces that draw us to others are deeply entwined in our nature. But we are not solitary, and the price we pay for our attachment is vulnerability; the risk of loss. Because we depend on other people, because they do matter, they occupy a special place in our hearts. When someone we love is gone from our lives, it is as if a piece of us is torn away. Grief is that process by which our minds heal this hurt. Through the process of mourning, we gradually accept the loss. We allow the dead to be gone from our lives. At the end of mourning, there is still sadness, but it is a wistful sadness that is tempered by the happy memories that we still possess.
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