Grieving is a normal life process, an adjustment reaction to a loss such as death of a child, death of a spouse, death of a parent, death of a sibling, kidnapping., other losses.
Grief cycle (Dr. E. Kübler-Ross) includes sequential stages such as follows:
* depression and
John Bowlby outlined:
* shock and numbness,
* yearning and searching,
* disorganization and despair, and
We grieve after any sort of loss, but most powerfully after the death of someone we love. It is not just one feeling, but a whole succession of feelings, which take a while to get through and which cannot be hurried.
In the few hours or days following the death of a close relative or friend, most people feel simply stunned, as though they cannot believe it has actually happened. They may feel like this even if the death has been expected.
This sense of emotional numbness can be a help in getting through all the important practical arrangements that have to be made, such as getting in touch with relatives and organising the funeral.
Soon though, this numbness disappears and may be replaced by a dreadful sense of agitation, of pining or yearning for the dead person. There is a feeling of wanting somehow to find them, even though this is clearly impossible. This makes it difficult to relax or concentrate and it may be difficult to sleep properly. Dreams can be very upsetting.
Some people feel that they see their loved one everywhere they go - in the street, the park, around the house, anywhere they had spent time together. People often feel very angry at this time - towards doctors and nurses who did not prevent the death, towards friends and relatives who did not do enough, or even towards the person who has, by dying, left them.
Another common feeling is guilt. People find themselves going over in their minds all the things they would have liked to have said or done. They may even consider what they could have done differently that might have prevented the death. Some people may feel guilty if they feel relieved that their loved one has died after a painful or distressing illness.
This state of agitation is usually strongest about two weeks after the death, but is soon followed by times of quiet sadness or depression, withdrawal and silence. These sudden changes of emotion can be confusing to friends or relatives, but are part of the normal process of grief.
Although the agitation lessens, the periods of depression become more frequent and reach their peak between four and six weeks later. Spasms of grief can occur at any time, sparked off by people, places or things that bring back memories of the dead person.
In fact, they are usually thinking about the person they have lost, going over again and again both the good times and the bad times they had together. This is a quiet, but essential part of coming to terms with the death.
These various stages of mourning often overlap and show themselves in different ways in different people. Most recover from a major bereavement within one or two years.
The final phase of grieving is a letting-go of the person who has died and the start of a new sort of life. The depression clears completely, sleep improves and energy returns to normal. Sexual feelings may have vanished for some time, but now return - this is quite normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
The grief of children and adolescents
Even though children may not understand the meaning of death until they are three or four years old, they feel the loss of close relatives in much the same way as adults. It is clear that, even from infancy, children grieve and feel great distress.
However, they have a different experience of time from that of adults, and may go through the stages of mourning quite rapidly. In their early school years, children may feel responsible for the death of a close relative and so may need to be reassured. Young people may not speak of their grief for fear of adding extra burdens to the grown-ups around them. The grief of children and adolescents, and their need for mourning, should not be overlooked when a member of the family has died. They should usually, for instance, be included in the funeral arrangements (176).
Some may start to grieve, but get stuck. The early sense of shock and disbelief just goes on and on. Years may pass and still the sufferer finds it hard to believe that the person they loved is dead.
Others may carry on being unable to think of anything else, often making the room of the dead person into a kind of shrine to their memory.
For some, it will be enough to meet people and talk with others who have been through the same experience.
Others may need to see a bereavement counsellor or psychotherapist, either in a special group or on their own for a while (30).
If you require help and advice Counselling and Psychotherapy may be provided via Skype and FaceTime in the comfort of your home, office or any place of your choice.