Grief is an unavoidable part of life that no one willingly chooses to face. Its pain is crushing beyond words and its grip is isolating. The loneliness it brings is almost unbearable and the mental torment is relentless. It knows no time constraints and no rules. It makes one feel vulnerable, lost, disconnected and dysfunctional. The world seems to revolve without you, as you become a numbed observer of life from the outside. Such is the power of grief, of bereavement.
Bereavement reflects a loving connection that has been lost, and we mourn this. We mourn the loss of the receiving and giving of love, understanding, friendship and intimacy that was at the heart of a precious relationship. Grieving is about moving forward without your loved one, while carrying them with you, within. It is a connection of love, a relationship, that cannot be taken away from you and, because of this, carrying them within can bring comfort through time.
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
How one grieves the loss of a loved one, and discovering what brings comfort in moments of abject despair, is a uniquely personal process. There is no time limit and no “right way” to grieve. When faced with grief be gentle with yourself, and allow yourself to feel your grief as it washes over you. Resistance will only prolong the natural process of healing.
Many suggest that we never fully recover from the death of a loved one, and that we simply learn to live with it. In many ways, I believe this to be true. However, the pain and sorrow will subside, peace will return, and the emptiness will abate.
Bereavement is living, mourning, grieving, until you begin to feel alive again.
During bereavement, the universal stages of mourning may be experienced. Mourning occurs in response to the death of a loved and valued being, human or animal, as well as in response to facing the end of one’s own life. These stages of loss, first proposed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, are discussed in The End-of-Life section on this website in relation to the emotional responses of the dying. These psychological reactions are equally relevant to a person who is facing a personal bereavement or the impending loss of a loved one. For some, the possibility of experiencing anticipatory grief is also a reality. If you would like to receive a two-page PDF about these stages as they relate, specifically, to bereavement and the loss of a loved one, as well as information on anticipatory grief, please email your request to: firstname.lastname@example.org