The death of a loved one can have a variety of physical and emotional effects on the bereaved. Some may feel shock, loss, become depressed, or experience physical symptoms during bereavement. For many, the pain is intense and cannot be relieved.
If you Google the word bereavement on the Internet you will find over 5 millions references dealing with this subject that alone attests to the universal nature of grief. For most people the feelings of grief subside with time and the person will continue with their lives. , this initial reaction subsides with time, and the bereaved person finds a way to again engage fully in life. However, studies show bereaved individuals, in general, are at risk for mental and physical health problems. Therefore, it’s important to get support for your grief and feel comfortable in getting professional help during your bereavement.
Your grief process is personal and everyone adjusts to the loss of a loved one differently. While grief is not the same for everyone, there are some common phases. Initially, the bereaved is preoccupied with the deceased and their feelings on the loss of this individual. Experiencing feeling of guilt, resentment, or anger can occur. Experiencing a range of emotions during this period is normal and a natural part of the process.
The next phase is a period of adjustment, where you begin the transition into living your life with out your loved one. The length of time this period takes varies on the individual and the nature of the relationship with the deceased. Sometime you may feel guilt over the fact your life is going forward, but this is a natural part of the process. During this time, having support in your grieving is important and discussing your feeling with a friend, priest, or support group is recommended.
During this time of bereavement, a person suffering with grief has increase mental and physical problems. It important to understand these problems can occur and to be aware of them as complications to the grieving process.
– Prolonged grief – Though each person grieves differently it is important to reach a period of adjustment. If you are having problems moving on. It may be time to talk to a councilor or work with a grief support group.
– Depression – Keep an eye on your emotional pain
– Panic or Anxiety Disorders – You may experience fears that you never had before. If these feeling become out of control or start to effect you life. Get help immediately.
– Alcohol and other substance abuse – If you feel yourself turning to drugs or alcohol to help overcome your grief, get help immediately.
– Smoking, poor nutrition, low levels of exercise – Sometimes when people are in emotional pain it blots out everything else including taking care of our bodies. If you find yourself doing this for more than 30 days you may be depressed. Contact your physician as soon as possible.
– Becoming suicidal – If you are expressing this feeling at all. Get help immediately from your doctor.
– Onset or worsening of health problems. During your time of grief it maybe a good idea to have a physical at some point especially if you hadn’t had a check up in a while.
When grief goes on longer, than is healthy, or when it is overwhelming, you may have what physician call “Traumatic Grief.” This type of grief should be treated as if it is an illness and you will need help from a trained professional.
Some symptoms of Traumatic Grief include:
– A Preoccupation with the deceased
– Pain in the same area as the deceased
– Memories are upsetting rather than comforting
– The person avoid reminders of the deceased
– Feeling life is empty
– A deep painful longing for the person
– Hearing the voice of the person who died
– Being constantly drawn to places and things associated with the deceased
– Seeing the person who died
– Feeling constant anger about the death
– Feeling it is unfair to live when this person died
– Having disbelief concerning the death
– Feeling bitter about the death
– A continued feeling of being stunned or dazed
– Feeling envious of others
– A difficulty trusting others
– Feeling lonely most of the time
– A difficulty caring about others
One thing to consider during your bereavement is to get emotional support. One way is through grief support groups and grief counseling. The loss of a close relationship permanently affects the bereaved person. It is not reasonable to think that one can recover from such a loss or resolve the loss. Such a loss is permanent and has permanent effects on the bereaved. Still, it is possible and important that the bereaved person will eventually have comforting memories of the deceased and feel interested in and able to engage in life.
Here are some reasonable expectations we can have as a bereaved person.
– We will eventually have the following:
– The ability to give energy to everyday life
– Psychological comfort, or freedom from pain and distress
– The ability to experience satisfaction and gratification in life
– Hopefulness for the future
– The ability to function adequately in a range of social roles.
As you can see from the list above there will be a time you will not feel this deep loss as acutely as you do today. Your bereavement is personal and the length of time you need is unique. Just be aware of during your time of bereavement of the possible mental and physical problems that can occur.
Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life
By Colin Murray Parkes
Published by Psychology Press, 1996
ISBN 1583911278, 9781583911273
The British Journal of Psychiatry 174: 67-73 (1999)
© 1999 The Royal College of Psychiatrists
Consensus criteria for traumatic grief. A preliminary empirical test
Prigerson and Jacobs
Handbook of Bereavement: Theory, Research, and Intervention
By Margaret S. Stroebe, Wolfgang Stroebe, Robert O. Hansson
Contributor Margaret S. Stroebe, Wolfgang Stroebe, Robert O. Hansson
Published by Cambridge University Press, 1993
ISBN 0521448530, 9780521448536
National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder – United States Veterans Administration