The pain that follows the death of a loved one is among the most demanding and unavoidable events that we can experience in our life. When we lose a loved one – a friend, a parent, a partner or a child – the loss brings along a deep sense of emptiness and meaninglessness and, while experiencing profound loneliness, we might be overwhelmed by intense feelings of anger, guilt, anxiety and despair.
Specific thoughts often emerge while we try to come to terms with our grief:
• We feel helpless and unable to overcome and understand what is happening
• We begin to think that we can no longer live with the pain
• We feel guilty for what happened
• We seek explanations
• We feel overwhelmed by doubts, uncertainties and anxieties
From a psychological perspective, many of us will experience specific stages:
Emotional Shock – “Why is this happening?”
Denial – “It’s not possible, not now … not me, not this …”
Sadness/Depression – “What will my future be without her/him?”
Anger – “Who or what is to blamed for this!?”
Acceptance – “It is hard, but I have to go on living as best as I can”
Forgiveness – We forgive ourselves for any conflict left unresolved by the death of the person
Search for meaning – “The pain made me realize that I am able to …”
Peace – We finally achieve peace, and we cherish the memory of the lost loved one with affection and serenity.
However, certain factors can hinder this process of gradual acceptance of the death of the loved one. Among these are the type of bond and relationship we had with person we lost, the history of the relationship, the age the loved one had at the time of his or her death, the manner in which the death occurred and our own coping abilities.
Therefore, in some specific circumstance, it might be relevant to seek psychological support to overcome grief. For example, this might be recommended when:
- Grief interferes intensely and for a significant period of time with our daily activities in form of a) anguish and fear of changes, b) fluctuating mood, c) apathy, d) sleep or eating disorders, e) hyperactivity, f) memories and thoughts connected to the death person that repeatedly insert themselves into our reasoning and daily routine.
- The bereaved person witnessed, took part in or assisted the death of the loved one (or other traumatic event that led to the tragedy)
- The bereaved person had previously suffered from psychological distress that had not been fully resolved.
- The bereaved person lacks positive relationships and adequate emotional support.
At the Little White House we have experience treating grief. Please schedule an appointment with us today.