Bereavement and Loss

Bereavement and Loss

The reality is that over our lifetime it is likely that we will all experience the heartache of losing a loved one or something important to us. Our emotions can feel overwhelming:

Symptoms can include:

  • Shock
  • Immobilization, numbness
  • Guilt
  • Anger, frustration
  • Bitterness
  • Regret
  • Confusion
  • Fear of what the future will hold
  • Trauma about what has been experienced, witnessed
  • It can impact our relationship(s)
  • Identity issues
  • Social withdrawel
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Self medicating with alcohol, drugs, eating etc.

Often, individuals are able to process the grief they are experiencing and learn to process it and absorb this into their life. In this way they are able to move forward in their life in a productive way.

There is a recognized process to grief, but it is stressed that this is not how the grief and loss are experienced by everyone. If your experience is different; this does not mean you that there is something wrong, nor is there a timeline for grief. We will each experience each loss we have during our lifetime in our own way and in our own time. This is not a process that can be hurried along.

The duration and intensity of our grieving in no way relates to how significant the loss has been to us or the love we had for someone.

The most common accepted responses of bereavement, grief and loss:

  1. Shock/ Disbelief / Immobilisation on hearing about your loss a person can be so stunned that they cannot take in what has happened, be unable to function as they did previously etc.
  2. Denial – the disbelief that the loss will or has taken place and the re-enactment of previous behaviours e.g. despite understanding logically that someone has died, we may automatically have the thought to call them on the phone 
  3. Anger / Guilt – as grief progresses and we try to process what has happened, it is not unusual for our feelings to progress to feelings of: anger at the unfairness of the loss, irritability, regret for things not done or said
  4. Depression – Low mood – sometimes we can feel that life has lost a sense of purpose and we may feel disconnected from the world around us; “what’s the point?”, we may also struggle with sleep, eating, motivation, we may find ourselves drinking more alcohol to cope or have a lack of enjoyment in anything and withdraw socially 
  5. Acceptance –  as we progress with our grief, we may find over time that there is a feeling that life must go on and whilst we still miss our loved one, that the pain of loss is not as intense and raw as it was initially. We are able to think about them and talk about them without feeling overwhelmed with grief.

Therapy can give you a safe place to explore your feelings about your loss openly and without judgement as you process what has happened. It can also help you to develop coping strategies as you come to terms to with your loss so that your day to day functioning is less stressful.

Loss can come about in a variety of ways:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a job
  • Moving home / relocation
  • Loss of a community or country
  • Children leaving home
  • End of a relationship
  • Loss of identity
  • Infertility /Miscarriage
  • Abortion
  • Personal injury /illness

**** Please note that a bereavement or loss can trigger pre-existing mental health conditions. If you feel that you are struggling and particularly if you already have a history of mental health issues, contact your GP and discuss this with them.