Loss, Bereavement and Mourning

 

Loss occurs when we lose something that is precious to us. It usually refers to a person, for example – the death of a loved one, but it can also denote many other circumstances such as:

 

  • Grown up children leaving home
  • Being made redundant or leaving a job
  • Divorce or the end of a relationship
  • Infertility
  • Moving house

 

What Happens When We Experience Loss?

 

Depending on the circumstances, our first reaction to loss is usually shock, even if we knew it was coming. This may manifest itself in feelings of numbness and disbelief. We may end up feeling spaced out, dizzy, forgetful and experiencing bad sleep patterns. It’s important to acknowledge what we are going through and to look after ourselves by ensuring that we get as much rest as possible and avoid exhaustion by only doing what is absolutely necessary to get through each day. If possible, we can lean on other people we love for support, catch up on sleep and give ourselves permission to do whatever we think will nurture us.

 

How Can We Get Over A Loss?

 

If we can acknowledge the gravity of our loss then we will be able to accept and process it more healthily. Anxiety and depression can result from unprocessed feelings – in loss this is usually the pushing down of sadness and anger. As uncomfortable and scary as these feelings can be, it is better for us to stay with them so that they can move on. Many of us bury our feelings by distracting ourselves and trying to forget what happened because we are consciously or unconsciously afraid of them. But suppressing our emotions only builds up trouble for later. Repressed feelings may develop into full-blown depression or uncontrollable anger which spits out at inappropriate times. It is far healthier to try to stay with these feelings. If we can bear to acknowledge our emotions they will pass and we will soon feel something else.

 

Another reason to ensure that we process grief is that each loss can bring up feelings linked to an earlier bereavement. Going to a loved one’s funeral may unconsciously bring up memories and feelings from an earlier loss. If we don’t process earlier losses in life, current bereavements can feel overwhelming.

 

Bravery and time spent acknowledging a loss, feeling the anger, pain, sadness and hurt and sharing it with someone we trust is vital to our recovery. Acceptance and the ability to move on from the loss will be quicker and permanent if we are able to do this.