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Coping with Loss: Bereavement and Grief


The loss of a loved one is life’s most stressful event and can cause a major crisis. After the death of someone you love, you experience bereavement, which literally means "to be deprived by death."

When a death takes place, you may experience a wide range of emotions even when death is expected. Many people report feelings an initial stage of numbness after first learning of the death, but there is no real order of the grieving process. Some emotions you may experience include: denial, disbelief, confusion, shock, sadness, yearning, anger, humiliation, despair, guilt. These feelings are normal and common reactions to loss. You may not be prepared for the intensity and duration of your emotions or how swiftly your moods may change. You may even begin to doubt the stability of your mental health. But be assured that these feelings are healthy and appropriate and will help you come to terms with your loss. It takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. You never stop missing your loved one, but the pain eases after time allows you to go on with your life.

It is not easy to cope after a loved one dies. You will mourn and grieve. Mourning is the natural process you go through to accept a major loss. Mourning may include religious traditions honoring the dead or gathering with friends and family to share your loss. Mourning is personal and may last months or years.

Grieving is the outward expression of you loss. Your grief is likely to be expressed physically, emotionally and psychologically. For instance, crying is a physical expression, while depression is a psychological expression. It is very important to allow yourself to express these feelings. Often, death is a subject that is avoided, ignored or denied. At first it may seem helpful to separate yourself from the pain, but you cannot avoid grieving forever. Someday those feeling will need to be resolved or they may cause physical or emotional illness.

Many people report physical symptoms that accompany grief. Stomach pain, loss of appetite, intestinal upset, sleep disturbances and loss of energy are all common symptoms of acute grief. Of all life’s stresses, mourning can seriously test your natural defense systems. Existing illness may worsen or new conditions may develop.

Profound reactions may occur. These reactions include anxiety attacks, chronic fatigue, depression and thoughts of suicide. An obsession with the deceased is also a common reaction to death.

The death of a loved one is always difficult. Your actions are influenced by circumstances of a death, particularly when it is sudden or accidental. Your reactions are also influenced by your relationship with the person who died. A child’s death arouses an overwhelming sense of injustice – for lost of potential, unfilled dreams and senselessness suffering. Parent s may feel responsible for the child’s death, no matter how irrational that may seem. Parents may also feel that they have loss a vital part of their identity.

The loss of a spouse is traumatic. In addition to the emotional shock, the death may cause a potential financial crisis if the spouse I the family’s main income source. The death may necessitate major social adjustment requiring the surviving spouse to parent alone, adjust to single life and maybe even return to work.

Coping with death is vital to your mental health. It is natural to experience grief when love done dies. The best thing is to allow yourself to grieve. Find relatives and friends whom can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with other experiencing similar losses. Tell others how you are feeling; it will help to work through the grieving process. Maintain your health. Be patient it may take months to absorb the loss and accept your change life. Seek professional assistance to help work through your grief. It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.


Contact Us

Mental Health America Jackson County
P.O. Box 51
Seymour, IN 47274
Phone: (812) 522-3480
Fax: (812) 524-8176
E-mail: mhajc@cabjackson.org