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Grief

Whenever we suffer a major loss in our lives, the death of a loved one, divorce, redundancy, a miscarriage or stillbirth, children leaving home, or the end of a love affair – we need to go through a period of mourning.

Mourning is a normal part of human experience. It involves feelings of yearning, sadness, despair, anger, fear and other intense emotions, then, slowly and gradually coming to terms with the new situation. It is a painful and often lengthy process – and cannot be rushed.

Unfortunately, we live in a society in which death is hidden away in hospitals and funeral parlours and, in which we are seen as ‘strong and brave’ if we remain dry eyed at the funeral of someone we love. (Men in particular, are discouraged from crying). These social pressures mean that normal, healthy grieving is often suppressed. This can lead to physical illness or mental health problems – sometimes years after the bereavement.

 
What is 'normal' grief?
 

Most people experience a bewildering range of thoughts and emotions after bereavement; sometimes the feelings are quite frightening because they are so painful and intense. You might feel that you are ‘going crazy’, when in fact, you are going through quite normal aspects of grieving. So what is ‘normal’ grief? If you have recently been bereaved – or have a bereaved friend or relative – what should you expect?


When we are bereaved, we might experience some or all of the following:

     
     
East Devon Funerals Not believing that the death has occurred; thinking there must be some mistake  
Funeral East Devon Feeling numb  
East Devon Funerals Feeling strange, unreal, disoriented  
Funerals East Devon Feeling frightened, restless, panicky  
East Devon Funerals Searching for the lost person (despite knowing this is irrational) e.g. wandering aimlessly from room to room  
Funeral Directors East Devon Crying and sobbing (sometimes ‘out of the blue’)  
East Devon Undertakers Episodes of painful yearning for the dead person (‘pangs of grief’)  
Undertakers East Devon Feeling depressed or even suicidal  
East Devon Funerals Repeating going through the events that led up to the death in great detail; thinking, “If only…….”  
East Devon Funerals Wanting to make sense of the death  
East Devon Funeral Directors Feeling that life has lost its meaning  
Funerals East Devon Thinking,  “Why did it have to happen to me?”  
East Devon Funeral Directors ‘Seeing’ the dead person in the street, then realising it is not him or her  
Funeral Planning East Devon ‘Seeing’, ‘hearing’, or sensing the presence of the dead person in the house  
East Devon Funerals ‘Forgetting’ the person has died – for example, setting the table for them  
East Devon Funeral Planning Feeling bitter and angry: with doctors, with relatives, with God or (commonly) with the dead person  
East Devon Funeral Company Feeling guilty or having regrets; wishing you had done more for the person  
East Devon Low Cost Funerals Feeling you have lost part of yourself (‘it’s like losing an arm or leg’)  
East Devon Funeral Directors Taking on characteristics of the dead person (e.g. gestures, mannerisms, hobbies)  
East Devon Funeral Services Loss of appetite  
Funeral Directors East Devon Difficulty in sleeping  
East Devon Funerals Loss of interest in family, work and other aspects of life  
     
     
  All of these are normal aspect of grieving  
     

For most people, the first year (including the first anniversary) after the death of a loved one is a very difficult and painful time. During this period, we need to spend a great deal of time thinking and talking about the person who has died. Slowly, we come to terms with the finality of their death – and feel the pain of this loss. Bit by bit, we adjust to our new situation; this might mean taking over the tasks which he or she used to do, or finding another friend or relative who will “fill the gap” a little, or simply getting used to the new sense of loneliness.

Eventually, we are able to give our energy to new relationships, and to start living for the future. At first, many bereaved people feel guilty when they smile, laugh or enjoy themselves, believing that this is somehow a betrayal of their love for the person that has died; but, in time, they realise that he or she would have wanted them to be happy and that life must go on. Eventually you feel able to make plans for the future and slowly begin to feel “alive” again. Redecorating rooms, rearranging furniture or getting a new job might mark such a turning point.

The dead person is never forgotten, but the grief softens; they are seen as having a cherished place in our past but no longer in our future. The “grief process” is often said to last 2 years, but everyone is different and episodes of sadness and yearning might continue on and off for many years.

 
 

What happens when grieving ‘gets stuck’?

 

Here are some of the ways of coping with bereavement which tend not to be helpful in the long term although there are exceptions:

 
 
East Devon Funeral Planning Feeling continually numb and emotionally ‘flat’ months after the death
East Devon Funeral Planning Constant cheerfulness and high spirits
East Devon Undertakers Never crying, even when alone
Funeral East Devon Undertakers Felling intensely guilty and self-reproachful
East Devon Funerals Keeping the dead person’s room and belongings just as they were several months after the death
East Devon Funeral Services Quickly disposing of all the dead persons belongings, hiding photos and never mentioning the person again
East Devon Funerals Moving house shortly after the death
East Devon Funeral Services Quickly ‘replacing’ the person with a new relationship (or pet, or job)
East Devon Funerals Denying that a spouse’s death is a loss (“I never really got on with him.”)
Funeral Services East Devon Overworking, abusing alcohol or drugs, keeping over-busy, avoiding being alone or, avoiding seeing people months after the death
East Devon Funerals Still grieving in an extreme way some years after the death
 
 

There are various reasons why someone might not grieve in the usual way – perhaps because they had a difficult relationship with the person who died or were very dependent upon him or her or, because they have no friends or family to support them through the grieving process or, because the death was particularly traumatic, unexpected or tragic.
If you or someone you know has difficulty in coming to terms with a death, talking to a friend or counsellor can help – even if the bereavement occurred many years ago.

 
Grief Journey >
 

 

 

 

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