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Bereavement: Healing from the Loss of Someone You Love

bereavement psychologist Dec 01, 2014

Bereavement: Healing from the Loss of Someone You Love

By Melissa Geraghty, Psy.D.

“To suppress the grief, the pain, is to condemn oneself to a living death. Living fully means feeling fully; it means being completely one with what you are experiencing and not holding it at arm’s length.” ~Philip Kapleau

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences in life. You may have feelings of intense sadness, shock, anxiety, anger, and guilt. You may also have unresolved feelings, things you wish you had said or done with the person who is no longer here. As the quote above implies, not expressing your grief can be detrimental to your well-being. Grieving from a loss is a normal part of living, however if you are unsupported and do not openly express your grief, grief can turn into depression.

When the loss of a family member, friend, or pet occurs, you may go through five stages of grief: denial (this isn’t happening to me!); anger (why is this happening to me?); bargaining (I promise I’ll try harder if…); depression (I don’t care anymore); acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes). Note that these stages are not necessarily sequential and some people may not experience all of these stages.

How your loved one died also can impact how you cope with the loss. Whether your loved one passed away due to natural causes, a chronic illness such as cancer, an accident, an overdose, or suicide, embracing your grief and working towards reconciliation is important for healing. Contrary to popular Western thinking, there is no timeline on grief. One does not “get over” the loss of a loved one. The goal of bereavement therapy is being able to honor and remember your loved one while also making sure you are living your own life to the fullest.

Grief can also be complicated by the relationship you had with the person who died. Whether it was a good relationship or an unhealthy relationship, it is important to process your feelings and take care of yourself.

For some people, losing a loved one causes them to push away from their religious or spiritual beliefs. Through therapy you can reconnect with these beliefs. You have a right to nurture yourself physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually during this time of loss. A trained bereavement therapist can assist you in this healing process.

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