Coping with the loss of a loved one or someone we know can be hard for any of us. It can be hard to adjust to life without the one we have lost, and we will all go through the grieving process in different ways: there is no ‘correct’ way to grieve. Ways of mourning or grieving for the loss of loved ones varies from culture to culture and from person to person.
Losing someone can evoke a whole range of emotions – shock, numbness, sadness, anger, guilt – say about something we said or did, our not being able to prevent the death of the person concerned, or because we feel alone. Of course for some, bereavement can also bring up a sense of peace, especially if the person who has passed away was struggling at the end of their life. Either way it can sometimes be difficult to tolerate and accept that the person we are grieving for has gone and it can also be confusing or hard to interpret the feelings we have.
Grieving is the process we go through in order to come to terms with the loss of someone we care about. The process is not necessarily linear or straightforward. It can sometimes be the case that we have felt that we are managing OK only to find that the next day we feel worse. Moreover, powerful feelings can creep up on us and can sometimes be experienced as overwhelming or uncontrollable.
As already noted, grieving is not the same for any two people and there is no ‘right’ way to grieve. This said, there are some broad themes of experience that are part of the grieving process. These experiences do not necessarily follow one another and they will also not necessarily be experienced as smooth transitions from one to the other. Nevertheless, grieving is typically comprised of: acceptance of the loss of the deceased and accepting that this loss is real; experiencing the pain that may arise from accepting this loss; adjusting to our lives with the deceased no longer in them; and eventually investing less of our emotional energy into the grieving process and investing this energy elsewhere – this is often referred to as ‘moving on’.
As part of the grieving process you may find that you also experience some of the following:
- Difficulty getting out of bed
- Neglecting yourself or others – for example, struggling to eat or keep up with self-hygiene
- Intense emotions
- The feeling of not being able to cope with life without the person you’ve lost
Talking about your feelings during this time can ease the grieving process. As well as noticing changes in yourself you may also notice changes in the way others treat you, some helpful – having a friend or family member that is willing to listen to you, feeling cared for or the recipient of compassion – some less helpful – finding others are distancing themselves from you or are struggling to talk with you about the deceased. It may feel difficult to talk with others, because, for example, you find the process too painful, others themselves are grieving for the person concerned, or say because you don’t think others will understand.
Talking with a professional who can listen to your difficulties in a non-judgemental and compassionate can be beneficial. Anniversaries can often be hard times and it may be that you are looking for advice with how to deal with the distressing feelings arising around the times of these occasions. Bereavement may be prohibiting you from engaging in some of the activities you used to be able to engage with and at Psychology Sussex we are happy to help you with whatever it is in particular you would like to talk about.
You may also be seeking help to cope with the fact that someone you know is currently dying or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Whatever it is you are going through we are happy to help. We have practitioners who have specialised in working with clients going through these processes and we encourage you to Contact our team now to find out how Psychology Sussex may be able to help you.