Bereavement and Loss
“The loss of a loved person is one of the most intensely painful experiences any human can suffer, and not only is it painful to experience, but also painful to witness, if only because we’re so impotent to help” (Bowlby, 1980).
The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult losses one can have!
It presents us with a kind of suffering that challenges our own mortality that often creates a search of meaning of human existence. Grieving is one of the hardest and the most painful experiences a human being can endure. Yet the fundamental tragedy of death can bring out the best in people. As well because when death touches us in some way, we are inevitable altered by this process. Yet death, often too painful to contemplate, can spur us to value life with passion that helps bring about new and significant changes in outlook on life, personal meaning, a deeper understanding of our selves and others and changes in worldview.
Each individual’s journey is unique and yet the experience of grief is drawn from a common well of pain, anguish and distress that seems unbearable at times. Many people report feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, hopelessness and/or anxiety. Others experience weepiness, moodiness, loss of control and feeling withdrawn.
Sadness, anger and loss are the most inevitable emotions of grief. Anger is a normal response. It may be directed at the deceased for leaving and causing a sense of abandonment, or at the doctors and nurses who did not do enough. Or it may be directed at oneself for not saving the life of the loved one.
Such feelings can be especially difficult if there were problems that had not been resolved before the death.
The death of a loved one can turn your world upside down which can lead to feelings of confusion, fear and anxiety. Allow yourself the time to adjust to your changed circumstances and give your self the space and time to grieve. Grief affects people in different ways but many people (at the depth of their suffering) speak of feeling lonely, empty and isolated. It can be useful to express how you feel by reaching out to family or friends.
The loss of a loved one is not something that you will ever get over entirely and time alone will not heal the intensity of the depth of this suffering. But by acknowledging the loss and experiencing the pain may give way to a new perspective about the future. It is easy to find ways of stepping around grief, but if you have the courage to walk right through the middle of it there will come a day when you recognise yourself again and that you will notice that you take part in social and leisure activities or realise that you have been enjoying yourself with family and friends again.
Acceptance does not mean forgetting, but rather memories to create a new and meaningful life without the loved one.
Death can be a permanent loss experience. Death takes away, but grieving and facing it can result in peace, new strengths, meaning and purpose.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them” (Tolstoy).