The loss of a loved one is one of the most painful moments of suffering, if not the most painful, that a human being can go through during his or her life, showig various reactions, both physical and emotional.
Faced with this loss, the psyche reacts with an adaptive process that we call mourning: mourning is a psychological process that we face in the face of certain losses, something that we will all suffer throughout our lives.
Grief is a normal process, a more or less long period of sadness and pain as a response to that heartbreaking situation, which everyone experiences differently, from individual to individual.
How is grief processed?
According to the five-step theory, grief includes:
- A phase of denial or rejection of reality.
- An anger phase, characterized by a sense of loneliness and the need to address the grief externally or internally.
- A phase of negotiation or compromise, which consists of the revaluation of one’s own resources and reality.
- A phase of depression, constituted by the awareness that death is inevitable.
- The last phase of acceptance of grief, where one becomes aware of the different conditions of life.
How long a bereavement lasts is an unanswered question. The average duration ranges between 1 and 2 years, this is what we could consider a normal mourning (socially a year of mourning was established).
From here, we would have to consider pathological grief, where the person develops a series of symptoms incompatible with the acceptance of the loss: difficulties in accepting the death of the loved one, uncontrolled feelings of loneliness and sadness, intrusive memories and images about the person, intense desires to meet the deceased person, feeling that the deceased person is seen or heard, or blaming oneself for not having been able to prevent the death or to have helped more.
- Moving on with our life, renewing the direction and meaning of what we are doing, our purpose, is fundamental to overcome the loss of a close friend or family member. For this there are some strategies that can help us.
- Talk about the death of the loved one in order to understand what happened and to remember him or her. Denying that the death occurred leads to isolation and can also frustrate the people who form your support network.
- Accepting feelings. After the death of someone close to you, you may experience all kinds of emotions. It is normal to feel sadness, anger, frustration and exhaustion.
- Take care of yourself. Eating well, exercising and resting will help you get through each day and move on.
- Help others who are also dealing with loss. By helping others, we will feel better. Sharing stories about the deceased can help everyone.
- Reminiscing and celebrating the life of the loved one. Frame photos of happy times, name a new member of the family after him or her. The choice is yours, only you know what is the most meaningful way to honor that unique relationship.
If you feel that your emotions are overwhelming you or that you cannot overcome them, perhaps speaking with a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, could help you manage your feelings and get back on track to move forward.