Psychology of loss and mourning. Most people experience loss in life. For example, the loss of a loved one, a job, or health. A loss can be very concrete and immediate, such as the death and therefore loss of a person. A loss can also be symbolic, such as the loss of ideals.
Grief is people’s response to loss; it aims to process the loss. The mourning period needs people to adjust to the new situation. Grief can follow all forms of loss, but it is most evident after the loss of a loved one. This folder is mainly aimed at this situation, but the information also applies to many other loss situations. Let’s see more about the “Psychology of loss and mourning”.
Psychology of loss and mourning
The death of a loved one is very drastic. This loss has to be processed, during this period people feel different than normal. Feelings of sadness, fear, sadness, but also anger, and guilt can be part of this. These grief feelings are sometimes frightening, but they are very important in coping with the loss properly. Suppressing these feelings can lengthen the grieving period. In addition to feelings of mourning, you may suffer from sleeping problems, difficulty concentrating, not feeling like doing things you previously enjoyed, and a poor appetite.
Sometimes people get stuck in the grieving process. Then, even after some time, they will not be able to pick up their lives again. It is not easy to indicate when a grieving process should be ‘complete’. In most cases, the feelings will decrease in intensity, so that there is room again to be busy with other things. Mourning often proceeds in ‘waves’. After a period in which the loss is no longer felt as strongly, the emotions can sometimes come back in full force.
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How does grief arise?
Grief is a perfectly normal response to loss. A loss usually means a profound change in your life. During the grieving period, adaptation takes place to the new situation, so that you can gradually resume normal life.
What can you expect?
Although the mourning period can be a very difficult and difficult period, the vast majority of people get through it in a good way. People can often mourn the loss of a loved one for up to one to two years, there can be large differences. Everyone has their own way of mourning. The duration and manifestations of grief can differ greatly from culture to culture. Certain farewell rituals can be very important to people.
It is important to process the loss at your own pace and in your own way. There is no general “right” way to grieve. It must be the case that normal daily life can gradually be resumed.
Various factors determine how difficult the loss process and the mourning period are. The following three factors play an important role in how you experience a loss:
- if you have foreseen the loss well in advance, you are better prepared. The feelings are sometimes less intense. Part of the processing has already taken place before the actual loss. Sometimes, in addition to the sadness, there is a relief. The more important the deceased was to you, the more severe the grieving period will be;
- if this loss is the first major loss in your life and you have never experienced anything like this before, the shock will generally hit harder;
- if previous experiences with loss have not gone well, it can make grieving more difficult; a ‘double mourning process’ takes place, as it were.
The period of mourning is over when you are able to pick up your own life again, and you can give it a new meaning. This does not mean that there are no more feelings of grief or that you no longer think about the deceased. However, the loss has been given a place so that it no longer impedes you in your daily life.
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When to go to the doctor?
Grief is a normal response to loss. Usually, it is not necessary to seek further help for this. Talking to friends and family is important in coping with a loss. Talking to the doctor can also help you, especially if they have also been involved in counseling a deceased family member. It may be that your complaints are so severe and last so long that your functioning is hindered for a longer period of time, for example, due to sleeping problems. You can also discuss this with the doctor, who will usually suffice with giving advice. Sometimes the short-term use of sleep medication can provide some rest.
If you feel “stuck” in the grieving process and have no improvement despite conversations with friends and family, it may also be helpful to seek further help. In addition to the doctor, you can think of a psychologist or a social worker. Loss and grief counseling is a treatment that provides support in grieving. There are also peer support groups for people who have lost loved ones. Contact with fellow sufferers can be an important source of support and information.
Now you know Psychology of loss and mourning. Let’s see what you can do your self.
What can you do about it yourself?
The following advice can help you avoid getting stuck in the grieving process:
- Talk to others about your feelings. This applies to grief, as well as feelings of relief or anger. These are very normal feelings and just because you are experiencing them does not mean that you are not sad about the loss. While some people may need to talk more than others, it is generally not good to bottle up your feelings too much. This can lengthen the grieving period. Your best bet is to look for people who are genuinely open to your feelings and with whom you feel comfortable talking about them.
- Let your feelings run free from time to time. There is no need to hold back your tears. It is better to give yourself the opportunity to cry a lot from time to time or to express what you are feeling in some other way.
- Do not oblige your thoughts about the deceased loved one. Avoiding thinking about the deceased or things related to him or her can slow down processing.
- Some people have feelings of guilt towards the deceased. If it is difficult at times: try not to impose on yourself a sense of guilt on the deceased.
- Pay attention to saying goodbye. You may like to perform a special ritual for this. For example, you can write a letter to the deceased, in which you write down everything you want to say.
- Do not stick to the old situation, for example by not changing anything in your home when you lose a partner and keeping everything. It can be good to give a particular souvenir to someone a nice place. Ultimately, however, you will have to organize your life in a new way, without the deceased. Clinging to the old hinders you from getting on with your life. In any case, you will not lose your beautiful memories.
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General advice and precautions for loss and mourning
In general, you cannot arm yourself against a loss. It’s part of life. Also, the feelings that go with it cannot be avoided. Over time, things will get better, even though it may take a while. Eventually, the pain of loss will fade into the background, even though your memories will remain. It is healthy and normal to really say goodbye after a period of grief and move on with your life.
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