Loss of a loved one is a phrase that confronts every human being; it is part of being human.  Even species of animals experience such loss and try to reconcile with the pain and the sometimes inexplicable.

The loss of a love one is something we dread; those of us who are fortunate to have had great people in our lives and sharing our world will need to heal.   It is said we have seasons for everything.   So a season to mourn is inevitable.  But we can choose to heal.

Loss of a loved one and stages of grief

It is commonly accepted that with mourning and grief, we tend to experience five stages of normal grief.  This grief emanates from the loss of one’s own life, the finishing of a close relationship, or the death of a close human being or an animal.

During the loss of a loved one, in our bereavement, as human beings we experience different lengths of time working through each stage.  For each person this is a most individual experience.   No two mournings are the same.  These five stages do not necessarily take place in any specific order. We can shift between stages before arriving at a calmer acceptance of the loss and then move on.

Help is at hand if you consult a professional psychologist to understand the dynamics of loss and how best to cope in addition to still running your day-to-day life.  Death of a loved one or the end of a relationship is very hard to face alone, and wise counselling helps with perspective and instances of reminding you to be kind, to you!

1. Denial and Isolation

The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a precious loved one is to deny the reality of the status quo. This is short-term response that carries us through the first wave of pain and wretchedness while we digest matters and come to grips with the situation.

  1. Anger

As the numbing effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, a reality check and its corresponding pain re-emerges.   If you are dealing with an illness, arm yourself with the facts by talking to the doctors.  Take your time.

At this point, please to consider counselling.  For you.  The impending fatal illness or the consequences of an accident, is a huge life changing consideration.  Sound counselling can help with dealing of multiple emotions whilst endeavouring to be practical about daily life, work and often other family members too.  The loss of a loved one can be daunting and overwhelming, hence seeking counselling could be a wise choice to help you through.

  1. Bargaining

The normal reaction to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness is often expressed as a need to regain control.  We ask questions, delve into medical second and third opinions to exhaust the options to gain the victory over the potential loss.   Some people may make a deal with God or a higher power in an attempt to postpone the seemingly inevitable.

  1. Depression

Mourning of the loss of a loved one heralds two types of depression, the reaction to practical, more public implications relating to the loss, such as medical and funeral costs.  Also guilt arises given our focus on the loss and not on others who need our attention.     The second type of depression is more private – saying goodbye or even farewell.

  1. Acceptance

Not everyone reaches this stage.  For various reasons, we may never see beyond our anger or denial. Working through loss of a loved one is a uniquely individual experience which we all do with the myriad of emotions. But others can be there for you and help ease you through this life exacting process.

For more information about Louw Alberts, psychologist in Centurion, Pretoria,  www.louwalberts.co.za or book an appointment.