What is bereavement?
When a person is bereaved it means that a loved one, or someone else important to them, has died. We tend to use the term ‘bereavement’ to describe the period after someone has died in which people who cared about them are grieving.
Who can be affected by bereavement?
Bereavement is a common experience and most of us will at some time experience the death of someone who is important to us. Whether as a child, young person or adult. People often say that they have ‘lost’ the person, that they ‘passed away’ or have ‘gone’ . Child Bereavement UK recommends using the word ‘died’, as euphemisms can be confusing, especially to children.
Is grief different to bereavement?
Most people who are bereaved experience grief, which involves feeling lots of different emotions in response to the death of the person.
What is grief?
Grief is a complex and universal human emotion that we all encounter at some point in our lives. It’s a profound and often painful response to loss, whether it’s the death of a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, a job loss, or any other life-altering event. While the experience of grief is deeply personal and unique to each individual, there are common threads that weave through the tapestry of our shared humanity when we grapple with the weight of loss.
Everyone grieves differently. But if you understand your emotions, take care of yourself, and seek support, you can heal.
Grief is not a singular emotion but rather a complex and multifaceted process. It can manifest in various ways, both emotionally and physically. Common emotional responses to grief include sadness, anger, guilt, and even relief in some cases. Physically, grief can manifest in symptoms like fatigue, changes in appetite, and disrupted sleep patterns. It’s essential to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and each person’s experience is unique.
No matter whether it’s a mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, grandma, grandad, or friend who has died, everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to feel when you are bereaved; it depends on the relationship you had with that person, not just the relationship to them.
The stages of grief
The idea of stages of grief was popularized by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book “On Death and Dying.” While her model isn’t universally accepted, it provides a helpful framework for understanding the various emotional states people may pass through during the grieving process:
Denial: In the initial stage, individuals often struggle to accept the reality of their loss. They may feel shock and disbelief, believing that the loss can’t be true.
Anger: As reality sets in, anger may emerge. People may become resentful, feeling a sense of injustice or unfairness about the loss.
Bargaining: In this stage, individuals may attempt to make deals or bargains in their minds to reverse the loss. This can manifest as “if only” statements or promises to change if the loss is undone.
Depression: The weight of the loss becomes more profound, leading to deep sadness and despair. This stage often involves isolation, withdrawal, and feelings of hopelessness.
Acceptance: In time, many individuals reach a state of acceptance. This doesn’t mean they forget the loss or stop feeling the pain, but they find a way to live with it and move forward.
How to cope with grief
Allow Yourself to Grieve: Grief is a natural and necessary process. It’s essential to give yourself permission to feel the emotions that arise and not suppress them.
Seek Support: Don’t go through grief alone. Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist who can provide the understanding and comfort you need.
Create Rituals: Rituals can help you honour and remember the person or thing you’ve lost. This could be a memorial service, lighting a candle, or writing a letter to the person you’ve lost.
Take Care of Yourself: Grief can be physically and emotionally draining. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and engage in regular exercise to maintain your well-being. It is OK to make yourself feel better during this process.
Time and Patience: Healing from grief takes time, and everyone’s journey is unique. Be patient with yourself and allow the process to unfold at its own pace.
Grief is a universal human experience, a journey that no one chooses but which ultimately shapes our lives in profound ways. While the pain of loss can be overwhelming, it’s important to remember that healing and transformation are possible. By acknowledging your emotions, seeking support, and allowing time for the healing process to unfold, you can navigate the depths of grief and move towards a place of acceptance, growth, and a brighter future.
Whatever happens, be kind to yourself and give yourself time to heal.