Grief and Bereavement

by tinacollins

There will be some point in everyone's life where we will have to deal with this very difficult time and process: Death and the emotions that it evokes.

Any help, advice or guidance we will receive may help to decrease the length of time that grief and the process of bereavement will occur.

For many years I have struggled to come to terms with my father's death that took place when I was 16 years of age. This is my story and experiences with the grief process.

Picture of Grief thanks to Blurpeace from Wikimedia Commons and Ookaboo!

The Grief Process

Here are some of the stages that you may experience:

A sense of shock and disbelief. You may feel 'numb' and act as if on autopilot. Viewing the body and taking part in the funeral process can help you through this process.

You may feel that you need the person that you have lost I.e you may yearn for them; wish they would call you or visit you. In a way, this is almost like not believing that they have gone. This is more common if the death is sudden or unexpected.

You may feel anger. Why did they leave you? Why did they die? How could they make you suffer!? It's not fair! Why was it them who died and not someone else or why not you?

You may be in denial. You may feel guilty. Why didn't you say sorry? (if you'd had an argument.)

Depression can set in between four and six weeks after the death with bouts of sudden grief as memories are triggered by events. (I feel that I'm stuck within this stage as I suffer from moments of sudden grief when events happen in my life I.e. the death of my partner's father.) One method to help ease this pain is to day dream and think about all the times that you and your loved one spent together.

Acceptance of your loss.

You may, also, feel physical symptoms: Loss of appetite, inability to sleep, depression, fatigue, loss of concentration.

We all Need Answers

My parents had separated when I was 8 years old and I have never really understood why; very little was explained to me about the reasons behind that decision. I suppose in the back of my mind I was felt I was somehow at fault for this. I remained torn between wanting to be back with my father but also, wanting to remain with the rest of my siblings.

I felt I had no choice. I felt confused, unhappy and alone.

In time, I learnt to understand that as a child and for many years after I held my stepfather and my mother accountable for my father's illness and subsequent death.

The Stages of Grief

For some people, to know what they may experience whilst going through the process of grieving can help them come to terms with their loss.

These include guilt, anger, confusion.

If you do not experience them all, that is okay and perfectly normal.

Is your loved one in ICU or terminally ill?

Before my father died in 1986, he spent a few weeks in ICU (Intensive Care Unit.)

You would think that this period of time would give me time to come to terms with my loved ones subsequent death, but, sometimes it may not be the case.

Even though a death can sometimes be expected, it still doesn't help to lessen the pain or shock that you may feel when it eventually occurs.

How to cope when someone is terminally ill

There is no easy answer to this question. The circumstances surrounding your loved one's ill health, your relationship with each other at the time, other family members etc. will all dictate to you how you deal with the situation.

The best thing you can do is:

a) Do what you feel is best for you at the time. Don't be pressured into doing anything you don't want to do by others.
b) Take the time to say goodbye to your loved one. It will be hard but you will feel less guilt when eventually they pass away.

Process of Recovery

'Some get stuck somewhere in the process of recovery and need help. Others are so affected by their bereavement that the grief gets out of hand. In such cases, treatment as well as assistance is needed, counsel as well as care.'

You Need Two Sides of the Story

Memories can hinder the Grief Process

I have very little memories and very few pictures of my father. All the information I have has been told to me by my family as I've very little recollection of the events. But, this has a consequence.

I do not know for sure which is real, which is true. They are facts only from one side of the story. I have nothing to back them up with.

Due to this, I have now been stuck in the grief process with an inability to:

A) understand still why my father was separated from me;
B) why I am unable to move on from his death,
C) why I still wish after all these years that I had chosen to see him for one last time in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit.)

Help ease the pain of grief

So what things can we use, and do, to help ease the pain of losing our loved ones?

There are so many ways that we can help one another and/or ourselves with the process of grief and bereavement. Very often grief follows a particular pattern of emotions that occur over an extended period of time and all of us need help to deal with this process and ensure that we do not get 'stuck' in the process of recovery.

Roadside Memorials - A controversial subject.
Online Tribute Pages - Publish a tribute/memorial website for your loved one. You can either set up your own website. Many of the online tribute services are free but they may give you an option to upgrade to give you access to more features and services.
Graveside - Visit the grave of your loved one regularly. Tend to it as if it was your own garden. Plant flowers, lay flowers, leave notes addressed to them. The process of visiting the grave and tending to it can be very therapeutic.
Talking or Counseling
Remembrance ceremonies
Bereavement Support Groups - Unresolved grief can lead to the need for counseling. Many support groups are set up for specific circumstances e.g. groups set up for parents bereaved by cot death, for parents of older children and for widows and widowers.

Advice for Older People Dealing with Grief

Ways to remember a loved one

Visit places that mean a lot to you where you and your loved one had special memories e.g. a holiday.

Visit the graveside or the place where the ashes were scattered (if possible).

Start a collection of memories from other members of the family and friends. E.g. a scrapbook, photographs, newspaper clippings, letters...

Create an online memorial or set up a Help the Aged Life Fund. Set the fund up in the name of the person who has just died. Any money that you pay into it is used to help older people in the UK and overseas. For more information call the Life Fund Team on 020 7239 7557.

Updated: 06/16/2013, tinacollins
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/29/2024

Thank you for all the analyses, observations and suggestions.

The first action under the fifth subheading, Help ease the pain of grief, concerns "Roadside Memorials - A controversial subject."

Just down the road, at a grassy island, a teenaged girl died. Her mother has a statue of Our Lady Mary with (regularly changed cut, fresh) flowers. The accidental death is from before the COVID shutdown even as the mother never is one to miss a visit in 5-plus years.

Her daughter in her afterlife perhaps might feel so loved and remembered, mightn't one think, with such a lovely Marian memorial?

It must help her mother, not with her at the time of dying.

The roadside memorial commemoratively niches a pleasant place, in a predominantly rural historic county, across from a neighborhood convenience-store gas-station stop on one side and a horse farm on another and amidst country homes.

frankbeswick on 02/27/2024

Opting not to be present at a death of a loved one is sad. Only last year I was present when my brother in law died. It was a poignant moment, but I had prepared by leading prayers at the bedside. The moment of death is not horrible, it has a profound thought provoking character.

DerdriuMarriner on 02/27/2024

Thank you!

Your father, from the afterlife, must appreciate that you note both his 8-year presence and his 8-year absence.

Some people opt not to be there when someone beloved or essential passes away.

It seems to me a prescient option for the younger ages who perhaps would be even more damaged by nightmares from patient pain than by sorrow over not having been there, correct?

tinacollins on 02/27/2024

I can say that, yes, I am and it still gives me problems even now.

DerdriuMarriner on 12/09/2023

The second paragraph in your introduction and the first paragraph in the second subheading, We all need answers, respectively advise us of a 16-year-old and an 8-year-old experiencing paternal death and parental separation.

Might you not be drawn again and again back in the depression stage mentioned in the fifth paragraph to the first subheading, The grief process, had there been a father-daughter interaction during his last 8 years as attractive and frequent as that during your first 8 years?

jptanabe on 06/16/2013

Thank you for sharing your personal experience of grief.

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