Understanding Grief, Loss, and Bereavement
Grief, loss, and bereavement are the inevitable truths of life. As long as there is life, there will always be death. The emotions of grief and secondary losses accompany the death of a loved one.
Everyone has to face these cruel realities of life at one point or another. Coping with the loss of a loved one is one of the most heart-wrenching experiences in life; losing a spouse, parent, sibling, or beloved friend can be intense.
"The pain of grief is just as much a part of life as the joy of love; it is, perhaps, the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment."
English psychiatrist Colin Murray Parkes
Your relationship with the person who died, the circumstances of the death, cultural and religious experiences influence your reaction to grief. These factors combined are what makes grief unique.
One thing that you, as a bereaved person, may need to learn as you journey through your grieving process is to learn how to carry this pain of grief while moving forward with your life.
We gain a sense of understanding through information. Understanding how grief, loss and bereavement affect your circle of life and how to cope is essential to your healing.
This article isn't only for someone grieving the death of their loved one. It is also for anyone in their support bubble, i.e., friends, families, etc.
This article aims to bring you comprehensive information to help you understand grief, loss, and bereavement to gain a sense of control and be in a better position to provide others with bereavement support.
Grief is a natural response to loss. This loss is further classified as:
Physical, which involves the loss of a loved one, i.e. spouse, parents, child, etc., or someone you shared a close bond with.
Life events, such as divorce.
Occupational, which involves losing your job or financial status, etc.
Understanding Grief, Loss and Bereavement FAQs
Is Grief One of Life's Greatest Teachers?
Is Grief Selfish?
What are the Physical Symptoms and Effects of Grief on the Body?
Insomnia: Lack of sleep due to shock and pain. This lack of sleep tends to harm a person's physical appearance and the brain's capability to tackle daily life functionalities.
Oversleeping: Some people seek refuge from their grief by staying asleep all the time, trying to run away from their thoughts and reality.
Weight loss/ Weight gain: Weight loss or weight gain occurs because of a grief-induced lack of self-care. Some people intend to eat too much to reduce stress, while some lose their appetite to even eat for their survival.
Aches, pain, or discomfort: In the early days or weeks of grieving, you might go through feelings of pain and discomfort in your body like headaches, migraines, heart pain, heaviness in the limbs, pain in your back, neck or overall pain in muscles.
Lowered immunity: You get sick more often, especially soon after the death of a loved one.
Fatigue: Grieving extracts all the energy from you as you feel devoid of energy to perform normal tasks.
Nervousness/ anxiety: You become more confused, anxious and less trusting around people.
How Long Does it Take to Stop Mourning A Loved One?
Will My Grief Ever End?
What is Inconsolable Grief?
What are The Common Roadblocks When Grieving?
Anger: starts in the very early stages of grief because of the heart-aching experience, as one looks for reasons as to why this happened. One expresses his anger, emotions, pent-up suffering on the lost loved one, family members or God and religion.
Guilt/depression: The feeling of not being there for the loved one or not being able to spend time with him/her etc. These feelings of remorse combined with the memories leach onto your heart as you keep grieving, thinking about what you should have done.
Acceptance is the key to life: know that loss, grief and bereavement are inevitable. So, accept your emotions, go easy on yourself and live the life you dreamt of living with your spouse, mother, father, etc.
What is The Difference Between Mourning and Grieving?
How Do Grief, Sadness and Sorrow Differ?
How Long Does It Take to Go Through the Stages of Grief?
How Long is it Appropriate to Grieve? How Long Does Grief last?
What are the Signs of Mourning?
What are the Five Stages of Grief According to Elisabeth Kübler Ross?
Is It Possible to Die from Grief?
What is Complicated Grief/Bereavement? How to Deal With It
Intense sorrow, pain over the loss of your loved one.
Not able to accept that your loved one is dead.
Grief gets worse day by day.
Numbness and feeling that your life has no meaning.
Being stuck in the moments of your loved one's death or memories.
Depression, self-guilt, and sadness.
Isolation and not being able to trust others.
Recurring suicidal thoughts.
What Other Areas of Life Does Grief Affect?
- Behavioural/ Social,
Why am I Unable to Cry as I Grieve the Death of My Loved One?
There isn’t a powerful bond between you and the lost person.
Shock of trauma leaves the person numb.
Is It Okay to Give Money to a Grieving Person?
It is perfectly okay to support the bereaved person financially. The death of a loved one, especially the death of a spouse, has a significant financial impact on the bereaved spouse who has to learn to adjust to the loss of family source of income.
Start a fundraising campaign.
Contribute towards the funeral costs.
You can also give gift vouchers to the family in need. This can help them with food, clothes, etc., to fulfil the necessities.
You can also help by contributing towards their living expenses such as house rent, utilities, child care costs etc.
What is Incomplete Grief?
Sudden bursts of anger/irritability: Being annoyed or getting railed up over slight issues that wouldn't bother you usually. This is a sign of all the pent-up grief hiding within you.
Obsessiveness/emotional rewind: Being obsessed with the death of the loved one, the events that followed that death, are part of normal grieving. But if the obsession prolongs and the person can't move on from the emotional rewind, this stage symbolises incomplete grief.
Always expecting the worse: After the traumatic experience, it becomes a sort of anxiety or a very heightened fear that something worse will happen to your loved ones.
Overreaction: It’s normal grieving after a trauma, a person prepares himself/herself for future sadness, but those suffering from incomplete grief move to two extremes;
Relying totally on someone to console the pain of the lost loved one.
Pushing everyone away from themselves.
Adopting Self Harming behaviours: Everyone has their unique capacity to grieve their loss. Some can handle it, and after going through healthy grief, they learn to accept their loss. But some use alcohol, drugs, and other means to comfort themselves, which leads only to self-harm.
Complete Numbness: Pulling the shutter down on the grief results in a numb, empty feeling. This feeling doesn't symbolise that the grief is over; rather, it is being avoided, which affects the individual's life by having no will to do anything.
Is Action the Only Cure for Grief? What Sort of Action?
Does Grief Get Worse Before It Gets Better?
Understanding Grief FAQs
"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we deeply love becomes a part of us."
Coping with Grief Tips
How to cope with grief after the death of a spouse/ loved one?
Losing a spouse/loved one is one of the most heart-aching experiences one goes through in his/her life. It's an overwhelming burden of uncertainty and confusion.
These are some tips that may help ease your pain:
Give yourself space:
So, it's natural to feel confused, overwhelmed and lost. Allow yourself to mourn, as it will help you express your pain and is an essential part of healing.
Everyone has their unique way of grieving:
Try not to compare your grief with someone else's grief, so take each day as a baby step to grieve at your own time.
Share your feelings:
Let everything out of your heart and allow yourself to speak your heart out. You can do this through any combination of the list below:
Lean on to your support network/system of family and friends to share your feelings and memories of your loved one.
Become a part of a grief support group, share your experience, feelings and share mutual support for each other.
You may seek the professional help of grief counsellors or therapists if you’re struggling to cope.
Be ready for mixed up emotions:
There will be times where you will be overwhelmed with feelings of confusion, pain, grief, regret and anger. Don't be too hard on yourself by ignoring self-care or blaming yourself continuously for death.
All these overwhelming emotions are a part of the grieving process and a natural reaction to grieving the death of a loved one.
Be compassionate towards yourself:
Respect what your body and mind are telling you and accept those limits. Get rest, take a healthy diet, and lighten your schedule.
Treasure the memories:
Share the memories of good times, bad times, and keep them close to your heart. They are the legacy of your spouse that will always be a part of your heart.
Grief is a journey:
Remember, grief is not an event but a process that takes time. Be kind to yourself and respect your limits. Take one step at a time and gradually move forward.
Supporting Someone Bereaved
What advice/tips would you give to a grieving person? How can you speed up the grieving process?
Grieving and mourning a loved one is a very tragic yet inevitable experience of life. Grief will take the time it needs, as it can't be accelerated or pinned according to a map.
The time also varies based upon your connection with the loved one and the circumstances of your loved one’s death. We all need help to move on from grief.
Therefore, as a friend, I would advise you:
Face the new normal:
Unless you accept the sad reality of the tragedy you have gone through, you cannot move on in life and recover from it.
You will be stuck in the same loop for days and years, asking yourself, "Did that just happen!" But why me? This can't be happening.
Drugs won't help:
It's also worthwhile to notice, suppressing one's emotional pain with external sources like drugs, sleeping pills, or alcohol never works.
You are merely deceiving your brain with chemicals that can have adverse effects in the long run. Sure, drugs and alcohol can ease the pain for a while, but they merely envelop the pain, not end it.
Whenever you are going to remove the envelope, the letter's message will be the same. By resisting your emotions, you'll be engaged with an inner-conflict with yourself that might destroy your peace of mind.
Invest in healthy relationships:
Know that we, as humans, are social beings , and you can't expect to get through grief alone. You need someone to share your grief, someone to lend you a helping hand when you are at your lowest.
In this article, I covered all the basic concepts regarding grief, loss, and how to cope with the loss of a loved one.
I discussed how healthy and incomplete grief affects a person, why healthy grieving is essential, and the stages of grief.
This article also includes tips, ideas on how to deal with grief and provide grief support to your loved ones.
Hopefully, these tips will help you on your journey to healing and wholeness. Keep sailing until you reach the shore. There is a new journey once you arrive.
Bereavement Peer Support Group
The support group aims to create a safe space to share stories, experiences and receive mutual support amongst peers who have experienced a similar loss on their journey to heal, find hope and thrive