Bereavement & Loss

All of us will experience feelings of grief as a result of losing someone or something significant to us and this indeed is one of the most challenging experiences in life. Most commonly we associate grief with the death of a loved one, a loss which is usually the cause of the most intense type of grief. But any loss can cause grief such as the end of a relationship, losing a job, losing a home, loss of health, miscarriage, retirement, death of a pet, loss of safety after a traumatic experience.

Feelings of grief over an important loss are a normal, emotional response. These feelings might widely range from person to person but commonly include:

  • A sense that life has no meaning or purpose
  • Feeling angry and irritable
  • Feeling guilty
  • Feeling tearful most of the time
  • Feeling tired and/or exhausted
  • Loss of pleasure in daily life
  • Mistrust of others
  • Not accepting the loss
  • Numbness and shock
  • Overwhelming sorrow, pain and sadness

These feelings may not be present or overwhelming all the time and may appear out of the blue. Therefore, it is not uncommon that someone might struggle to recognise how bereavement, grief, or loss is affecting how they feel and/or behave. If these feelings persist and do not improve over time, it could be a sign of complicated bereavement or loss.

If you suffer from complicated bereavement or loss, you are likely to experience some or most of the following symptoms for at least six months after the loss:

  • An intense belief that you are responsible for the death or loss or that could have prevented the death or the loss
  • Bitterness or anger related to the death or loss
  • Confusion about one’s role in life, or a diminished sense of one’s identity
  • Difficulty in engaging with social or other activities and a reluctance to pursue interests
  • Difficulty in experiencing positive memories about the deceased or the loss
  • Difficulty trusting other individuals since the death or loss
  • Excessive avoidance of reminders of the loss (e.g., avoidance of individuals, places or situations associated with the deceased)
  • Experiencing disbelief or emotional numbness
  • Feeling alone or detached from other individuals
  • Feeling that life is meaningless or empty after the death or loss, or the belief that one cannot function
  • Inability to experience a positive mood
  • Marked difficulty accepting the death or loss
  • Persistent preoccupation with the death or loss