Bereavement is a term that is used to describe the recovery process that a person goes through after the loss of a loved one. The reaction to such a loss is called grief. According to the Kubler-Ross model, there are five reactions that a person who is grieving would usually go through. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Even though the experience of grief is very personal and may differ from one person to another, these five stages seem to be commonly experienced by most people who suffer a loss.
Kubler-Ross also says that not every bereaved individual goes through all the stages, but many people usually struggle with one or two of these reactions/stages for quite a number of years. This usually depends on the severity of the loss and the support (or lack of) that the bereaved person receives after the loss. Kubler Ross’ later work emphasized that these stages are not just experienced by someone who has lost a person that is close to them, but individuals may experience these stages even when suffering different losses (such as the loss of employment, marriage, health and other significant losses.)
Grieving the loss of a loved one is a very difficult process. It tears open our mind, our heart and our life, and this can make us feel very vulnerable. It is sometimes very hard to go on with our day when we can’t stop thinking about the person that we’ve lost and miss deeply. Some people notice changes in their work, changes in appetite, and difficulties when trying to get a good night’s rest. Even though this is not uncommon in the first few weeks and months, however, when the symptoms persist and interfere with a person’s daily functioning, we would say that a person is going through complicated grief. Feelings of complicated grief would include feelings of emptiness, anger, intense sadness and other feelings which do not start allieavate themselves as time goes by.
Therapy is an effective way for people to learn more about their emotions and to find ways of coping in such a difficult time. Apart from individual therapy, there are also group sessions for people who have lost someone they love. Through therapy, bereaved persons are then usually able to find some meaning and closure in order to continue living life as best as they can, whilst keeping a healthy connection to the deceased through memory, dialogue, reflections and/ or rituals.
– Claire is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.