Bereavement

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Life Stops for none, it keeps going on

Bereavement is the experience of being deprived of someone valued, a loved one especially through death. The most common response to bereavement is grief, and sometimes anger, guilt, confusion, despair, phobia, denial, are some other typical responses.

The grief reactions vary with the relationship of the dead with the bereaved, the age of the dead, how the death has occurred (timely, suddenly, etc.).

The death of a child whether young or an adult is very difficult for the parents to cope up with. Even if the child is suffering from a life threatening disease the grief is unbearable. The feelings of injustice, anger and sometimes guilt dominate the mind. The parents tend to become over-protective or may completely withdraw themselves from the other kids, while trying to come to terms with the harsh fact.

The grief at the loss of a parent, mother or father hugely varies with the age; how dependent the child is on the parent; also how predictable the death is, like at an old age if a parent is suffering too much then their death doesn’t cause an intense grief as when losing a parent in adolescence to an accident. The loss of a parent at a young age is life changing for a child.

The death of a sibling is another huge loss to anyone. In a sibling, one may loose their best friend, their confidant. If the sibling is elder then one may feel confusion, burden of being the replacement, and if the sibling is younger then one may feel survivors’ guilt.

The loss of a spouse at any age is an unbearable loss. It causes a feeling of despair, loneliness, being abandoned, guilt and many such feelings.

The death of a friend or relative or a pet or co-worker, anyone whom a person shares a special relationship with causes grief that sometimes goes unnoticed to others but is nevertheless there.

How to deal with Bereavement:

There are 2 models that help the professionals to understand the responses of a bereaved client :

Classical model of grieving :

This model states that grieving is a time limited process, where a bereaved shows 2 weeks of shock or intense grief, 2 months of strong grief and 2 years in which grief decreases and the bereaved returns back to normal functioning. If not resolved in the time limit the grief is considered maladaptive. The ultimate goal according to this model is to teach the bereaved to detach himself from the dead to form new relationship with the living.

Revised Model

This model states that grieving is an individual process and needs to be understood in terms with the bereaved’s coping skills and beliefs. It is not necessary and usually also impossible to detach oneself completely from the dead. The effect of the death on the bereaved’s life plays a major role in grieving and thus in the process of healing too.

Counseling the bereaved :

One important thing to remember while counseling anyone who has lost their loved one, is to let them cry, show their anger, keep talking about the dead or be silent, the bottom line is to let them grieve for their loss. The aim should be to enable them to replace the sad memories with the happier ones of when the person was alive; to slowly accept the reality and learn to live life without the dead, as the fact remains that ‘Life Stops for none, it keeps going on and you have to go on living’.

          Vidhi Pipara Adolescent Psychologist- Guidance on personal or psychological problems in Ahmedabad,Gujarat and India.

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