There is nothing more devastating in life than losing a loved one. Whether it was a parent, sibling, child, friend or partner; losing someone you loved can cause you to feel an abhorrent amount of emotions, some of which you may have never experienced before. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how we will react either because bereavement makes us behave completely differently. However, it is imperative to remember that there is no right or wrong way to react, there is only the natural way. Bereavement may hit you all at once, or it may be years before you start going through the grieving process. It changes. Nonetheless, we have come up with some advice to help you deal with bereavement, or offer assistance to someone you know that is suffering.
The Four Stages
- Accepting that it has happened and that it is real
- Experiencing grief, which can be as painful as anything you ever experience
- Adjusting to this change in your life
- Learning how to move on
As we mentioned above, there is no set reaction and know way of knowing what emotions you will feel. However, a lot of people that go through bereavement experience:
A degree of shock and find them self, going through long periods of feeling numb and being in a total daze.This is completely normal. As hard as it is, it is completely normal, but it will pass with time.
Quite understandably, many bereavement victims get struck down with incomparable degrees of sadness. This is a horrible thing to have to endure, but try not to bottle it up. Cry. You don’t have to cry in front of other people, nor do you have to hide it, but crying can offer you that release you needed. Crying can help you escape from the swirling thoughts. It can help you remember the happier times. It can take some of the weight off your shoulders.
Anger is often felt. It could be that you feel angry toward the person that died, or the fact no one could save them. It could be that you are angry at the universe. All of these are normal, and they will heal with time. But if they don’t, it is okay to seek help, whether that is cognitive behavioral therapy, anger management counseling or just speaking to a doctor. A lot of people do, and a lot of them claim it helped them recover.
An unbearable amount of guilt will arise. This is what the author of Affable In Adversity (a best-selling bereavement book celebrated by people like Stephen Fry) claims to be the hardest part to accept. The guilt gets everyone. You feel guilty for feeling sad because you know this isn’t how your loved one would want you to feel. You feel guilty for smiling, laughing and having fun. You feel guilty for moving on. You feel guilty for not thinking about them all the time. You feel guilty for saying something to them when they were still alive, or for not saying something, or for doing something you regret. You feel guilty for not being able to protect them from death. This will fade with time. Not completely, but it will fade. And if it doesn’t, seek help in whatever form you feel comfortable.