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Bereavement, derived from the root “reave”, meaning to rob or forcibly deprive, is a state an individual enters when they have been deprived or robbed of something of value. Grief is the bereaved person’s internal emotional response to that loss. There is a process that the bereaved goes through to make sense of the loss and to begin to heal.
Death is a different and difficult experience for everyone. Even if you have experienced a loss yourself it is still hard to console someone close to you who has suffered a loss. Below are some tips and suggestions on how you can help the bereaved. First a short explanation of grief.
A Definition of Grief – The physical, emotional and mental condition brought on by a loss, such as the death of someone you love. Grief is our body’s natural ability to heal our emotional injury. Grieving can be hard and a lack of understanding makes it even harder. Grief is a personal process characterized by three stages.
The first phase is Shock (denial). This begins with the news of the death. The reality of the death may occur within a few minutes, a few days or sometimes several months later. This phase “protects” the survivor from the emotional impact of the death. One may experience a need to stay busy, confusion, an inability to express emotion, an inability to function normally, and an overwhelming sense that something is wrong without grasping the reality of the loss.
The second phase is the expression of grief (i.e. bargaining, anger, depression) and may last for several days to several years. There are mental, physical and emotional manifestations that may come and go or appear in any combination.
Mental: Preoccupation with the death, inability to focus, concentrate, or remember, lack of productivity, paranoia or, inconsistent thoughts.
Physical: Fatigue, weakness, insomnia, weight gain or loss, headaches, tendency to catch stress-related illness, a sense of vulnerability, discomfort with too much activity or too many people.