Bereavement counseling can be an enormous help for one of the most distressing times of our lives.
Little else can compare to the pain and distress experienced when losing a loved one.
The inevitable period of grieving is incredibly difficult for most people and although it cannot be bypassed, bereavement counseling can minimize suffering and help begin the process of rebuilding your life.
The five stages of grief
Grief is a cycle with different stages. It is common for people to move back and forth erratically through these stages or even go through the complete cycle several times.
It is important to remember that each individual moves through the stages at different speeds, frequencies and intensity.
The cycle of grief usually occurs in the following order:
Stage 1: Shock
The first reaction is usually one of shock and disbelief. We can’t really believe we will never see the loved one again. Sometimes this disbelief is at an unconscious level, so we find ourselves setting two places at the table or shouting upstairs to ask if they want a cup of tea, and are shocked when we realize what we’ve just done.
Similarly, we can feel relief. This can be relief for the dead person, who is no longer in pain, or for our ourselves, because we are free from having to watch them in pain.
Stage 2: Denial
When the shock wears off, many people go through a stage of denial where they cannot accept the reality of the loss.
Stage 3: Anger and guilt
It is common to experience anger, guilt and often both. Many people ask: “Why has this happened? Why me?”
It is also common to wish to find blame. Sometimes this anger and blame might be directed towards:
- God – if we believe in God
- Medical staff for being unable to save the life
- Ourselves for not being able to do more
- The person we have lost for leaving us to face life alone
We can also feel guilt because the other person has died and we have been spared, because we didn’t do more to save the life (even if realistically, there was nothing more we could have done), because we didn’t tell them often enough how much we loved them, or, of course, because we felt the anger or relief described above.
Stage 4: Despair and depression
In the first weeks the whole situation can seem unbearable and in the months that follow, many feel there is little purpose in life and nothing of interest in the outside world. People sometimes begin to question their own sanity, but this is a common experience.
Remember – all of these feelings are normal and most bereaved people experience them.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Eventually, people pass through the period of depression and begin to accept the loss. This usually happens after around 18 months to 2 years – perhaps less with professional help and bereavement counseling.
At this point people often feel like getting on with their lives, perhaps renewing old interests and taking up new pursuits. Some feel this is disloyal to the person who has died, but the past is always a part of us and is not affected by the present or the future.
Let us help you manage your grief
Contact Online Counseling now for help and support during this difficult time.