A bereavement and the subsequent grieving is life’s way of informing us of the intense feelings surrounding the loss of a friend, family member, partner, spouse, child, etc.
The way bereavement follows its course can depend on the relationship with the lost person, the suddenness, say a heart attack, or a long drawn out ending perhaps through serious illness; grieving is a painful process for everyone yet it can be more straightforward for some people in that they can come to terms with the sadness and move on in time. It is as if the loving bond with the deceased enabled a ‘healthy’ grieving. What is ‘healthy’ grieving? In my experience it is when the individual who has suffered the loss is able to express a range of feelings including sadness and anger, feeling lost, searching and deep pangs of grief for the ‘lost’ person and the situation that they find themselves in, perhaps feeling very alone. During this very stressful time some people have the ability to connect with others and share their grief and get support.
For others bereaving can be more complicated; this can happen when the relationship with the lost person swung between love and hate or perhaps there was no contact with the now deceased person. Things were not said or laid to rest before the loss occurred. Now it is as if the person left behind has to carry an emotional burden him or herself. Often a loss of this scale, perhaps particularly of a parent can be linked to other losses in that person’s life such as neglect or abuse and it makes bereaving more arduous when feelings are mixed between love and rage for the lost person. Counselling is a very effective way of clarifying thoughts and feelings and coming to understand what can be a very traumatic time following a bereavement.
Experiencing loss covers many areas; loss of employment, loss of the ability to conceive children, the breakdown of a relationship, through surgery or intense treatment such as chemotherapy, the list is endless; somebody once told me that every gain incurs a loss such as an adolescent leaving childhood behind. Transitions then can invariably mean losses and it is how we adapt and mourn losses successfully that springboard us forward as opposed to keeping us stuck and unable to move on due to fears and anxieties and perceived limited choices.