Bereavement is the period after a loved one dies when we can feel a deep sense of sorrow. Grief is the emotional impact of our loss.
There is no set time limit to grief and bereavement. Grief is a very individual process and how you experience it can depend on a number of different factors, for example your relationship with the person who has died or your experience of previous losses.
After a loss we can feel confused. Our sense of purpose and meaning can change and the way we used to be may feel out of reach. Your life has changed. It can take time to adjust to life without your loved one. When we lose someone close to us we can feel like we have lost a part of ourselves too.
There is no right or wrong way to feel grief. This list gives examples of what you may feel, it is not an exhaustive list and you may have other experiences in addition to these common emotional and physical responses.
Emotionally people may feel:
Physically people may feel:
Bereavement is a very individual experience. Quite often people are worried about upsetting other loved ones with their grief, therapy can provide a space for you to express what you're feeling. Sometimes people need a space to work through how they feel about the cause of death and the impact this has left them with. There are also sometimes issues within families after a loved one has died that can leave people feeling isolated, therapy can provide support during these times.
Initially, therapy is not usually advised within the first few months of a bereavement. This is not set in stone but usually in the initial period people have support around them. After a few months family and friends may not be able to offer the same level of support as they return to their work life patterns. It is an adjustment period and a time when the reality of the new normal can start to set in. The numbness and shock may also start to ease at this point which may feel like the grief is getting worse so therapy can help to understand the process.
Sometimes the bereavement may have happened long ago. At the time you may have dealt with it but now you may find that it is impacting you more and you are struggling. Grief can change over the course of our lives, sometimes people do not understand why the grief has resurfaced and feel they should be "over it" after a certain period of time. Therapy can help with long term bereavement and help you to understand why you may be feeling the grief more acutely at certain times in your life.