Bereavement is the experience of loss, usually associated with the death of someone significant in our lives. However, loss can also relate to other aspects of life such as the end of a relationship, becoming unemployed or other major life events. Bereavement is the time we spend adjusting to loss. It is normal to experience a range of emotions such as anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt and anxiety during bereavement.
Whilst grief is a natural response, it can also be disruptive to your way of life – unsettling your daily routines; challenging your beliefs, and even your sense of normality. Grief can manifest in different ways. Difficulty carrying out everyday tasks; getting out of bed; excessive alcohol usage; neglecting yourself; self-harm; suicidal thoughts; feeling hopeless; lack of motivation, and being snappy and irritable are all concerning signs that you may be having difficulties grieving. It is important to know that everyone processes grief and loss differently.
Loss can also be a trigger for past issues to emerge which may not have been resolved, and if suppressed long enough, can lead to depression. Some things to consider are any past mental health issues which existed prior to the loss, the nature of relationship and closeness to the deceased, family history and social support.
Bereavement is not a simple case of taking time out to recover. The idea of achieving ‘Recovery’ suggests that you will emerge exactly the same as you were before the loss. All of your life experiences form the person you are today, and these significant life events are no exception. The process of bereavement can involve acceptance of what has happened, learning to adjust to life following the significant changes experienced, and trying to move forward in the best way possible.
Talking about the loss often helps to adjust to new life with all its changes – the good, and the bad. Avoidance of processing what has happened, keeping things bottled up or denying the sadness could prolong the pain. An important part of moving forward is acknowledgement of the loss. Counselling can be an effective way for dealing with bereavement. It’s a helpful way to make sense of things, mourn the loss, and gradually move through the different stages of bereavement towards acceptance.