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Bereavement - Ways to Cope with the Loss of a Loved One

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Process of Grieving

“The sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open; this affliction we cherish and brood over in solitude.” - WASHINGTON IRVING, THE SKETCH BOOK, IN MOFFAT 1992, 270

Grief is nothing but a profound expression of loss. It is normal and even healthy to grieve. Grieving helps in the acceptance of loss, which is crucial to cope and move on with life. On the contrary, if one does not grieve properly, pent up emotions and refusal to accept reality can impact one’s emotional health negatively.

Though grieving is universal, the manner of grieving varies from person to person. Some take long to recover following the death of a loved one, while some come out of it faster. Though there are no distinct stages of grieving, it is observed that the process of grieving the death of a loved one could take anywhere from one to two years, before a person can actually accept the loss and move forward.

Initial reaction to the death of a loved one is usually a feeling of numbness or disbelief. This state of disbelief or shock could last anywhere from a couple of hours to days following the death.

In the days following the death, physical and psychological signs of grief may show up. Crying, talking about the dead person, and even seeing glimpses of the person in familiar places are some of the ways in which people express their loss.

Mood swings are very common during the initial days of grieving. Anger, guilt and denial of death could also be some of the emotions experienced during this period. Those grieving may also experience sleeplessness, loss of appetite, appear withdrawn and may become weepy all of a sudden. They could also appear disoriented and confused. Some of them experience a deep urge or yearning for their loved one which intensifies their grief.

Recalling conversations, the good times, even the tense moments or conflicts with the one who has passed away, including feelings of regret and remorse are all a natural part of grieving.

Some people withdraw from family and friends. Over time, the sadness and pain get tempered and the bereaved begin to adapt to life without the loved one. Although the sense of loss remains, the bereaved learn to cope and live with it.

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