Grief And Bereavement

The time that immediately follows the death of a loved one can be very distressing. Bereavement is something that we all experience at some stage of our lives, but not often, therefore we do not get much opportunity to learn how to deal with it. Everybody reacts differently to the loss of someone close. Grieving is a natural process which ever way it is manifested. The time that immediately follows the death can be filled with a stunned belief even if the death was not totally unexpected.
Sometimes it is not until later that the emotional feelings reveal themselves. Some people need to actually see the body of the deceased in order for the death to register in their minds. Other people would rather not see the body if this is the case then it is recommended that they do not.1 Sometimes it is best to remember your loved ones the way they were.
The funeral itself often brings a feeling of closure. The person is now at rest forever and life goes on. Some people will experience grief for many years after the death, particularly if the death was unexpected. Some people never fully recover but learn to cope with their loss instead. After a death it is natural to feel angry, perhaps toward the medical staff or the doctors who were trying to prevent the death. You may feel anger toward other members of the family. It is even possible that you would feel anger toward the person who has died.2 Anger can be expressed in many ways, but usually it is expressed openly and verbally. When the anger is verbalized, one may listen supportively, even if these emotions appear irrational. Anger after bereavement is understandable, and individuals who vent anger usually are not in the position to examine irrationality. Simply saying ‘’I understand’’ may be an effective way of helping the bereaved develop an understanding of his anger.3
Another common emotion is guilt. The bereaved are always likely to go over and over in their minds the days leading up to the death, wondering what they could have done to prevent it. This emotion is especially true when the death is due to an accident. Bereaving people who are experiencing this emotion should be reminded that death is beyond their control and nothing they could have done would have prevented it.4
The Closer the relationship, the more chance for guilt to be a part of the response.5 With members of the immediate family this us often the case. Children feel guilt at the death of a parent because of the natural resistance they have to parental authority. Parents feel guilt at the death of a child because they constantly wonder what they could have done differently to produce a different outcome. ‘’A daughter dies in a car crash and they wish they hadn’t given her the car for graduation.’’6
The emotions that death brings can start at any moment. Somebody may suddenly burst into tears as they recall a memory of their love one. This can happen weeks or even months after the death. Some people find it difficult to deal with this problem and tend to stay away just when they are needed most. For a bereaved partner there are constant reminders of their time alone as they will see other couples together every day, but time is a great healer, and in most cases, time is all that people need to get over.
Children generally do not understand death until they are three or four years old, but they still feel the loss of someone close if they pass away. Even in infancy it is clear that children can feel the distress of loss. Children seem to recover quicker then adults but still need to be reassured constantly if they have lost someone very close such as a parent. If there is doubt about the way that a child is grieving then professional help should be sought.
Sometimes children experience what is known as complicated grief. This is when life’s issues are unexpressed or unacknowledged, they become locked in frozen blocks of time. Frozen blocks of time stop normal grief and deny the child the ability to grieve. It can feel as if life stops and time stands still. The natural flow