When we grieve, we experience intense emotions, such as anger, sadness. Some people report finding these feelings scary and frightening. Some people may experience hallucinations, feel the presence of the dead person and so on. They may feel that they are going “crazy”.
This is all perfectly normal and can be reassuring for the bereaved person to hear. Working through our feelings of loss should be continual and conscious. Later, we will discuss what happens when our grieving goes “wrong”.
There are ways to help the bereaved. Bereavement support is about “being” rather than “doing”, that is, helping the person who is grieving to express their feelings and supporting them while they do. We cannot take away pain, we do not have all the answers, but we can “be” with the person who is grieving. It is healthy to grieve. Grieving for little losses helps us to grieve more healthily for more serious losses.
Sometimes, the grieving process can be very difficult. People will find it difficult to acknowledge the bereavement and may not work through their feelings properly. Certain factors may make a difficult bereavement more likely:
- 1-Being male.
- 2-Several previous bereavements.
- 3-History of mental illness eg. Depression, anxiety, previous suicide attempts. Dependent relationship with person who died.
- 4-Relationship where you had trouble or negative feelings about the deceased.
- 5-Low self-esteem.
- 6-Lack of support from family and friends.
Bereavement can also cause problems for the bereaved if there are certain circumstances around the death. These can include:
- 1-Sudden death.
- 2-Death of parent when a child or adolescent.
- 3-Miscarriage or death of baby.
- 4-Death due to suicide.
- 5-Death due to AIDS.
- 6-Death of co-habiting partner/same sex partner/extramarital relationship, where relationship may not be legally recognised or recognised by family and friends.
- 7-Death due to murder.
- 8-Death where bereaved is thought to be responsible. Deaths where post- mortems or inquests are required.
- 9-More than one death at once eg. Accident.
This does not, of course, mean that all people who have these factors will experience complicated grief, just that it increases your risk of having complicated grief.
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