Grief is a natural response to the death or loss of someone they love or are close to. We have a tendency to think of grieving only as a response to great losses such as death or divorce. Whereas, mourning is a psychological response to any loss or separation. The lost thing can be an earring with a memory, a hope, a friendship, a lover. Although it may vary according to the relationship with the lost person, the mourning process consists of four basic phases:
Stages of Grief
Stage 1 SHOCK: In this stage, which can vary from a few hours to a few weeks, the person has difficulty grasping the reality of the loss. They may be confused, dull, unresponsive, and may experience feelings of emptiness and unreality. During this period, difficulties in remembering and physical symptoms can be seen.
Stage 2: Denial: The person feels the pain of loss more and more, experiences intense sadness and longing, searches for the lost person, and cries. Anger, restlessness, fear and excitement, difficulty concentrating, and reluctance towards things that are interesting and enjoyable can be seen. The mind is preoccupied with the deceased and with death. This phase can last for days or weeks.
3. Stage DEPRESSION: With the increasing awareness of the fact that the loss will not return, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness arise, and accordingly, fatigue-fatigue, reluctance and loss of interest are at the forefront.
Stage 4 OUTPUT: With the acceptance of the certainty of death and its consequences over the months, the intensity of one’s feelings of longing and sadness gradually decreases. Although the memories of the lost person are not lost, the person returns to the state before the loss, reorganizes his life, and regains hopes and dreams for the future.
signs of grief
Bodily reactions: Headache, chest pain and chest tightness, knots in the throat, difficulty in swallowing, feeling of hunger, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, shortness of breath, palpitation, menstrual irregularities, muscle twitching, tension and contractions, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite weakness and fatigue
Emotional reactions: denial, sadness, crying, longing, anger, distress, insecurity, restlessness, fear of losing one’s mind, loss of interest and desire in life, not being able to enjoy anything, feeling no emotion, hopelessness and pessimism about the future, loneliness, helplessness.
Spiritual reactions: feeling that the deceased is still alive, existing, hearing his voice, seeing his dreams, questioning the concepts of life and death
Cognitive reactions: not being able to stop thinking about death constantly, self-blame, anger at oneself, regret, remembering the moment of loss over and over, or even living it very vividly,
Behavioral reactions: A purposeless hyperactivity, avoiding the pain of loss by devoting oneself completely to helping others, avoiding people and not wanting to meet, excessively tending to or trying to stay away from the lost person’s belongings and places, going or not being able to go to the grave frequently, using alcohol and/or drugs, sexual changes.
Advice and considerations for the bereaved
1. Meeting the basic needs such as nutrition, shelter, clothing and providing a sleeping order.
2.Creating an environment where he/she will feel safe.
3. Encourage talking about the person to help them recognize and accept the reality of the loss.
4. Allowing them to express their feelings such as sadness, pain, distress, anger, helplessness arising from the loss.
5. Avoiding words such as “You must be strong”, “Life goes on”, which are said to reduce pain, and instead try to sincerely understand and share the feelings experienced.
6. Using the past tense, such as “What kind of person was your son” when talking to the bereaved person).
7. To help him/her to perform funeral and mourning ceremonies in line with his/her culture and belief.
8. To be able to live without the lost person and to make independent decisions, to identify existing problems, to talk about different options, to help them learn ways to cope,
9. Suspending for a certain period of time significant changes in life and sudden and ill-considered decisions (for example, moving, changing job or city)
10. Strengthening the contact with people who can provide social support such as family, friends, neighbors, and if necessary, directing them to support groups and people and/or institutions that provide mental health services.
11. Taking into account the positive effects of the bereavement process, orienting the students to work life, supporting the students to continue their education, encouraging the unemployed, the elderly and housewives to find new areas of interest and occupation.
12. To know the grieving process and its reactions, to know that grieving is a process that requires time and effort.
13. Knowing that grief is a process that can vary from person to person, allowing individual differences (for example, members of the same family may react differently).
14. To discuss coping methods such as alcohol and/or drug use, avoidance of places of loss and discussing these with the person.
15. Referring to a psychiatrist in cases where the grief process is severe, lasts longer than expected, and affects the person’s daily life and relationships.
16. To be careful about mental disorders (such as depression, anxiety disorder, suicidal thoughts and attempts) that may occur after death and to refer them to a psychiatrist.