What few people know about grief and bereavement
Death: one of the hardest realities that we come to face in our life. Whether they were a lifelong partner, a sister, brother or friend, coping with the bereavement can be a distressing and difficult experience. Although we will all see dying in our lives, bereavement, coping with our grief is a very unique and personal experience.
It is not easy to accept the death; you are not sure how you will cope with going on. The feelings of missing the person can seem overwhelming. It seems hard to let go of those near to us, but it need not be impossible. There are some things that can make it easier.
Offer yourself some compassion. Death and loss are an integral part of life and going through that change makes demands on our thoughts our emotions and our behaviours.
Coping with a loss is a long process and it can bring out a variety of feelings. Often we feel we have to ‘put a brave face on it’. We may have regrets at something unsaid, or that we didn’t get a last chance to visit. You need to allow time to acknowledge these feelings (shock, anger, loneliness) and give yourself permission to accept that you may not feel better or return to normal quickly. It's helpful to talk about your feelings rather than close them in, and this is where family and friends can make a big difference sharing stories and memories. Yet don’t feel you have to be strong or that you have to cry or be over it - grief is a personal process and you should take your own time.
It can help to notice your feelings about the loss and explore what they mean for you. Perhaps you feel angry or guilty. Perhaps there is fear at going on alone. It can help you to adjust to your new life without your loved one. Often we feel we need a reason to move on, and by exploring our feelings we can find the calmness and the resolution to this need. However, it’s important that you do this with support. That can be friends or family or it might be a grief counsellor. Someone you feel comfortable with and who can listen.
Time, it is said, is a great healer; many grief counsellors don’t like this phrase. Grief and bereavement are a process, and how you feel about your loss will change over time. Most people are changed by their loss and the grieving process is about navigating that sadness to a new reality without your loved one. Often we find ourselves swinging between remembering the loss and moving on with a new life that extends beyond death.
Loss cannot be healed any more than we are defined by our grief. If we give ourselves the time we mourn our loss, notice the changes and remember the good as we move to the future.