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Mourning is the process of adapting to loss. We must grieve for those who have died so that we can go on living.
Dealing with Bereavement
Most of us, at some time in our lives, will be faced with the death of someone we care about deeply. Although each of us reacts to loss in different ways, we have gathered together some of the feelings and experiences most frequently felt by bereaved people which we hope will help you through this difficult time.
Accepting the loss
At first you may not be able to absorb the painful truth and cannot take in what has happened. In this early stage of grief is a feeling of numbness during which you may also feel calm, detached or confused.
This feeling gradually begins to wear off as you begin to be able to absorb the pain. The deep feeling of unreality, however, may recur at different moments throughout the whole grief process.
You may look for your loved one in a crowd, or in his/her favourite chair. Perhaps you will answer the phone and expect your loved one to be on the other end.
Gradually the pain of your loss and the reality of the absence of your loved one will become more acute.
Sometimes feelings of anger toward the loved one are experienced, followed by feelings of guilt at having such feelings. It is important to talk these through.
This is the stage when grief will express itself with weeping from deep within, which may feel endless. Crying does not exhaust the grief, but the grief exhausts you. All kinds of symptoms can occur which are quite normal – you may feel tired, unable to sleep, eat or concentrate properly. You may even feel dizzy and experience pains you do not normally have.
Feelings of anxiety, helplessness, tremendous loneliness and even despair may overcome you. This is normal. It is at this time of grief when you need the support of family or friends, who can just listen without criticism or comment, as you express your feelings of sorrow, guilt or fear.
Wanting to escape
You may feel that you would cope better if you moved house and disposed of everything that reminded you of your deceased loved one. However, you are, actually, unable to think clearly and objectively and you should not take any major decisions at this time.
Slowly you will move forward adjusting to your loss. The process of “letting go” began with the funeral. Part of this process includes tasks like cleaning out a wardrobe, or a room. Every time an anniversary or after a special day passes you will be learning to let go a little more.
Moving on – Beginning to live again
In time you will become aware that you are beginning to have good hours and days. You will find that you can remember something about your loved one without feeling so sad. Gradually, you will begin to take up new interests and renew some of your old ones.
The length of time the journey of grief takes varies from person to person.
Grief is individual and each of us reacts to it differently. No one can completely understand another person’s grief, although this is an experience that most of us go through.
There are people who are willing to listen and will understand as much as they are able. If you have feelings of guilt, panic, anger, fear or self-pity, do not try to hide them – they are part of your grief and should be shared with an understanding listener.
Be aware that if friends seem to be avoiding you, they may be embarrassed because they “don’t know what to say” or they may also be grieving, but most will want to help.
The main points to remember:
- Allow yourself to express your feelings.
- Give yourself permission to cry.
- Allow yourself to experience the pain of loss to work through it.
- Be aware that grieving is natural and you can only do it in your own way.
- Find others to listen and understand.
We don't ever truly get over the loss of a loved one, there will always be the empty space, birthdays, anniversary dates you remember, but as time goes on the pain diminishes to the extent that the sadness turns into remembering and laughing about happier times."