Grief is a common occurence, and is the normal internal feeling that you experience in reaction to a loss. Bereavement is the state of having experienced that loss and is a necessary and essential part of coming to terms with the loss. Although grief usually refers to the loss of a loved one through death, you can often experience emotional pain in response to the loss of anything that is important to you, including a job, a special friendship or the loss of your home.
According to MedicineNet.com, in approximately 15% of grieving people the grieving process may extend beyond 12 months, and can sometimes lead to a more intense grief reaction adversely affecting your well being, impacting close relationships, disrupting parts of your life and experiencing exessive and ongoing longing for your loved one.
In contrast to grief (see above), mourning can be thought of as the outward expression of your loss. In most cases, mourning is determined by various rituals which are based on your cultural background and social customs and personal and family beliefs. Mourning can often help you make sense of the loss of your loved one during what can be a confusing and emotional time.
What are the effects of losing a loved one?
The possible negative impacts of a grief reaction can be significant and are often aggravated by certain triggers such as events and situations which remind you of your loved one or the circumstances surrounding their loss. Even things such as a certain song on the radio or a certain scent can be a powerful grief trigger to some people. It is also not uncommon for feelings of guilt to be experienced when you are bereaved, normally for things that were either said or done while the loved one was alive.
In about 40% of bereaved people there is an increased likelihood that they will experience an anxiety related issue in the first 12 months after the loss of a loved one.
What are the causes and risks of more complicated grief?
Generally, the risk factors for experiencing more serious grieving symptoms are normally related to your own physical and emotional wellbeing. During the grieving process, it might be that your basic needs are not being met in the appropriate way, leading to a more complicated level of grief. In addition, the nature of your relationship with the the person you have lost and the nature of their death play a role in your personal grieving experience.
Bereaved people who feel that the death of their loved one was unexpected or violent may be at a greater risk of suffering major depression or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What are the signs, symptoms and stages of grief?
There are a number of useful models for understanding the grief process including this one which categorises it in 5 stages
- Anger and/or Guilt
- Resentment (and sometimes Depression)
Children tend to experience and respond to grief quite differently to adults, depending on age group and developmental stage
There are many tips for helping you to cope with grief. The most important one is trusting that in most cases you will get through it normally and be able to move on normally with your life.
It is always important to rely on any support structures you have such as family and friends and, failing that, there are many national and local support networks that you can talk to. A comprehensive list to get you started is available here
- In addition to the above it is important to
- Care for yourself through continuing your nutritious and regular eating habits
- Get extra rest whenever you can
- Communicate regularly with surviving friends and families if you find it beneficial
- If you relied on the person for practical needs (such as sorting out the bills, or doing the accounts), then seek assistance from somebody who can help you understand what has to be done
- It is always important to check that your basic needs are being met appropriately
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- In many cases, the assistance of a good therapist can assist in teaching you to learn ways of coping with your grief or indeed helping you to deal with any stress or anxiety that you may be experiencing as a result of your loss.
- Please note: Before undertaking any therapy, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor if you are on any medication for chronic pain, anxiety or depression.