Bereavement is something which is likely to occur to us all in our lifetime. The sense of loss felt because of the death of a loved one can also be referred to as grief.
Bereavement can have a negative impact on our mental health. People respond in many different ways to death and losing a loved one, and because of this there are multiple symptoms which people can experience including; shock, numbness, overwhelming sadness, despair, guilt and anger.
It’s important to note that grief and bereavement is normal after losing someone, however if it is prolonged then it may develop into a mental heath problem.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler conducted research into bereavement and identified 5 stages of grief –
Stage 1 – Denial – It is common for people to reject the idea that a loved one has died. This is a subconscious way of avoiding the sadness or dealing with the problem. People often isolate themselves and withdraw from social behaviours.
Stage 2 – Anger – People who are bereaving will often become upset with the deceased individual as they see it as they are leaving them behind, often unable to cope. Often people are angry with themselves as they believe they could have helped the individual and prolonged their life.
Stage 3 – Bargaining – Individuals will reach out to the universe to make the pain go away. This is normal and the first step that they are coming to terms with what’s happened. People will try make a deal or promise which will make their suffering be taken away.
Stage 4 – Depression – It is widely assumed that depression occurs immediately after death of a loved one. However, due to shock and other emotions it can take some time for it to set in, which is when a sense of finally is realised. Depression due to grief is a single episode of depression although can last for a long time, it should not be confused with clinical depression.
Stage 5 – Acceptance – The final stage of grief, which at this point the person is not looking back to try and recover the life they once had with the individual. Although emotions associated with bereavement have not disappeared, they are ready to move on and count it as a new beginning.
If you yourself are struggling with mental health, or think you know someone who is, reach out! Please talk to someone or visit Mind’s Urgent Help Tool!