Bereavement

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About Bereavement

Losing someone you care about can be challenging for all sorts of reasons. Feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety, helplessness and even guilt can surface. It is important to be aware of one's vulnerability and to seek help and support at difficult times like this. 

Family and friends can be very helpful during tough times and can give comfort and practical support. 

Grief following bereavement is natural. However if it is excessive or prolonged, you may need some medical input. Sometimes, professional assistance is needed from a GP or counsellor. 

If you are bereaved and are finding it difficult to cope, there is help available. Please contact and arrange to see your GP as soon as possible. 

We grieve after any sort of loss. It is not just one feeling, but a whole succession of feelings, which take a while to get through and which cannot be hurried.

There are five main stages of bereavement; people who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

1. The first reaction to learning about the terminal illness, loss, or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. Denial is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock of the loss. This sense of emotional numbness can be a help in getting through all the important practical arrangements that have to be made.

2. As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. The intense emotion is redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may also be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. 

3. An attempt to bargain is the next step. This may occur prior to loss as well as after loss, as an attempt to negotiate pain away. You may find yourself intensely focused on what you or others could have done differently in order to prevent the loss or change. You may also think about all the things that could have been and how wonderful life would have been if not for this unpleasant situation. 

4. This is then followed by a depression, where sadness and regret predominate as the main emotion.

5. Acceptance. Reaching this stage of grieving is a gift not afforded to everyone. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.

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Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual loves is taken away.

The grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship.

Grief is a healthy process and should not be prevented.

Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.

Sometimes grief does not go away. Grief lasting more than two months and interfering with daily life may be a sign of major depression. If feelings of grief turn to thoughts of suicide, hopelessness or worthlessness and an inability to function at home, work or school, seek professional help immediately.

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