Losing a loved one is a significant and a painful occurrence. After an individual loses a loved one, he/she may experience different difficulties and emotional situations such as grief, shock, and anger. I once lost a friend whom I loved so much and the experience was terrifying and devastating. However, I was able to overcome the grief thanks to the support I received from my family and friends. One should understand grief is a normal reaction to loss of a loved one. In fact, psychologists say that accepting grief experiences and allowing one to feel whatever emotions are there after loss of a loved one is a normal process of grieving, and it helps a person to recover quickly from the loss. There is no specific way that a person is supposed to grief after losing a loved one. However, there are a number of ways, which psychologists advise that one can use to cope with the pain.
Grief is a normal reaction to loss (Smith & Segal 2). It is important to note that, grief is experienced when a person loses a loved one through death. Therefore, the emotions that an individual feels after loss of a job, a good friendship, a pet, or a home are not termed as grief. Studies indicate that grief is quite common among women and children. Nonetheless, when one loses a loved person, he/she usually undergoes the grief process. Sometimes, an individual may undergo a prolonged grief, commonly referred by psychologists as complicated grief (Smith & Segal 2). Grief is termed as complicated when an individual’s reaction to loss of a loved one prolongs for more than one year. Even though there is no specific period that an individual should grief for a loved one, this type of grief has a potential of disrupting an individual’s life, close relationships, personal beliefs, and to some extent, causing mental illness. Complicated grief occurs when a bereaved person starts to experience continuous desire for his/her dead loved one. As a way of supporting an individual experiencing complicated grief after loss of a loved one, I would advice the individual to seek professional help from a psychiatrist or help the individual seek such help. Psychiatrist counseling is very important to a person suffering from complicated grief because it assists such a person to avoid suffering from anxiety, stress, or depression.
When I learnt about the death of my friend, I was very shocked. I did could not understand why I had to loss such a dear person in my life. It was hard to belief that my friend was dead. I realized that shock and disbelief are some of the first signs of grief that one displays after losing a loved one. In fact, some people display disbelief by going to an extent of waiting for their loved ones to show up. After accepting that my friend was dead, I started feeling sad. My sadness entailed feelings of loneliness, despair, emptiness, yearning, and a lot of crying. Sometimes, I also felt angered and guilt.
When an individual loses a loved one, he/she may undergo some of these stages. The first stage is denial. This involves lack of acceptance of the situation. The next stage is anger. In this stage, a person starts to question the occurrence of death and looking for whom to blame for the death. After overcoming anger, an individual may start bargaining. This entails trying to look for ways of reversing the entire process, including death. Afterwards, an individual can go into a depression state. The last stage is acceptance. Here, an individual comes into term with the entire occurrence, and finally accepts life without the existence of a loved one (Smith & Segal 4). When I lost my friend, I underwent some of the aforementioned stages although I was not aware that I was undergoing the grief process. By refusing to accept that my friend was dead, I was undergoing the first stage of grief, denial. I then underwent the second stage of grief: anger. This was during the times when I was feeling angry about the death. I then started feeling guilty for some of the bad things I had done to my friend. I started wishing for my friend to be alive so that I would correct my mistakes by doing good things to her. Here, I was undergoing the bargaining process. In the end, I accepted that she was dead, and that I could not do anything about it.
After the loss of a close person, an individual should be supported in various ways in order to help him/her cope with the loss. Mourning can be one of the ways of supporting a person who has lost a loved one. Unlike grief, mourning is the external expression of loss of a loved one (Coping with Loss of a Loved One). The way we mourn is determined by our religious, cultural, societal, and family beliefs and customs. However, regardless of the cultural, societal, or religious beliefs, during the mourning period, the bereaved person should not be subjected to frustrating or depressing situations. Family members and close friends should offer unconditional support during this period. Less frustration and depression helps the bereaved person to cope with the end of their loved one’s life more quickly. Lack of support or frustration during the mourning period may cause a bereaved person suffer confusion, thus experiencing more devastating and terrifying emotions afterwards.
When I lost my friend, my family and friends were supportive. During the mourning period, they were always at my side, encouraging me as well as supporting me with the funeral arrangements. In fact, many of them offered their friendship by promising to behave the way my friend used to behave towards me. They assured me of their company in going the things that my friend and I used to do together. This helped me to remain calm during the mourning process, and cope with the grief after the funeral. Their continued support helped me to overcome the grief within a short period.
Besides, a bereaved person can cope with the loss by taking care of him/herself. One way to do this is to face the grief feelings; that is, accepting the pain and avoiding feelings of sadness, loss, and loneliness. In addition, one can come up with creative ways of expressing his/her feelings. For instance, when I lost my friend, I made a photo album commemorating her life. I also made sure I engaged in an activity, which we used to do together at least once in a week. This helped me to accept the loss and be able to live without her. Individuals are also advised to take care of their physical health: getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating proper diet. This helps an individual's body to maintain physical and emotional stability, which is important for quick recovery from any form of loss.
Loss of a loved one can even sometimes lead to death of the bereaved person. Studies indicate that “there can be an up to 70 percent increase in death of the surviving spouse within the first six months after the death of his or her partner” (Dryden-Edwards & Stoppler 3). Apart from death of the surviving partner, loss of a loved one can cause other negative effects such as anxiety. Studies indicate that about 40 percent of bereaved individuals suffer anxiety in the first year after loss of a loved one (Dryden-Edwards & Stoppler 3).
For these reasons, people who are suffering from loss of their loved ones should be provided with the necessary support to avoid occurrence of the instances mentioned above. Support can be provided before occurrence of the death (were the occurrence is known) and after the occurrence. Family members and close friends should provide emotional, social, and financial help during the mourning period and continue the support until the bereaved person overcomes the grief.