Whether the loss of a loved one is expected or not, the ending comes as a shock, and bereavement can be painful and perhaps traumatic. Until you have been through it, few will understand that losing a loved one is among the most difficult things to cope with.
While everyone’s experience of loss will be different, grieving is always a process to be gone through. As an experienced bereavement counsellor, I have prepared some thoughts and ideas to help understand the stages of grief, and some suggestions for support to enable people get through.
The seven phases of loss / bereavement
There’s no right or wrong way to feel when you’re grieving for a loved one, but there are seven typical stages of grief:
- The upward turn
- Reconstruction and working through
- Acceptance and hope
Unfortunately each stage is not like a new chapter of a book. There’s no clear end to one chapter and the start of the next. Phases is a better description, as with time one phase dissipates as another one comes to the fore.
Common feelings and emotions connected to bereavement
While people experience grief differently, all or some of the following are likely to be present:
- Shock – You may feel numb as you try to come to terms with what has happened
- Sadness – Feelings of overwhelming sadness – it is important to allow yourself time and space to cry and let it out
- Anger – The direction of the anger may be towards them, their illness (if they had one) or yourself
- Guilt – You may feel regret for things you did or didn’t say, or feel somehow to blame – survivor’s guilt
- Anxiety – Seemingly small things getting on top of you. Struggling in social situations, worrying unnecessarily about things, or the welfare and safety of your loved ones and those closest to you
- Distracted/forgetful – As your mind is distracted by grief, you may find it difficult to concentrate or apply yourself to tasks.
Bereavement is something that we will all experience at some point in our lives. Understanding the human response to loss and having the insight and bravery to reach out if we need help shows real strength.
There are expert bereavement counsellors, like those at Harmony, who are ready to provide professional support for as long or as short a time as is needed.
Read more about our bereavement counselling services.