Bereavement: Losing Someone Hurts
Coping with Bereavement
Bereavement is the mourning period and feeling of loss people experience when a loved one dies. After a significant loss, whether it was anticipated (such as with terminal illness) or unexpected (such as a car accident) you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. For many people, they feel as though the sadness will never ease. These feelings can be frightening and overwhelming, but remember, they are normal reactions to loss. By accepting these emotions as part of the grieving process and allowing yourself to feel what you feel, you will start the healing process.
Everyone experiences bereavement in a different way. There is no ‘normal’ way to do it. There is no right or wrong way to grieve — but there are healthy ways to help cope with the pain. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the bereavement process is measured in years. Whatever your bereavement experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold. You will feel better. It does take time. Don’t feel as though you need to rush yourself.
There are five main stages of bereavement. Everyone grieves in their own way. It starts with recognizing a loss and continues until a person eventually accepts that loss.
Stages of Bereavement:
(Not everyone experiences all of these emotions)
- Denial, disbelief, numbness
- Anger, blaming others
- Bargaining (for instance "If I am cured of this cancer, I will never smoke again.")
- Depressed mood, sadness, and crying
- Acceptance, coming to terms
Family and friends can offer emotional support during the grieving process. Some people may choose to seek bereavement counseling from outside people or agencies.
People who can help:
- Mental health specialists
- Family members
- Self-help groups
- Social workers
Over time, you will feel better. However, you may need to contact a professional bereavement counselor or your physician if you need help with mourning.
Seek help if:
- You can't deal with the grief
- You are using excessive amounts of drugs or alcohol to escape your feelings
- You have prolonged depression that interferes with your daily life
- You are (or feel yourself becoming) suicidal