Everyone is bound to experience loss one way or another. It does not always have to be through the death of a loved one, although that is the most common type of loss. However, there is a difference between grief and bereavement. Grief is what one may feel after any type of loss, whereas bereavement is more commonly used when it comes to the death of a loved one.
Even though they may vary in use, grief and bereavement all point to an intense feeling of sadness or depression. Grief and bereavement is expressed in different ways by different people, usually depending on how close they were to the departed and their background.
What is grief?
It is important that you understand what grief is so that you can correctly identify your emotions when you feel them. Grief is not just sadness, as it can also encompass anger, regret, yearning, guilt, or even depression. Because it covers such a wide range of emotions, grief can often times be confusing.
One can feel grief after the loss of a loved one, may it be through death or a break-up. People who experience grief can have conflicting thoughts, which can range from relief that a loved one is no longer suffering, to yearning because they want to be with the departed again.
The way people express grief can also greatly vary. Some people prefer being disconnected from the world and processing their emotions on their own. Some others prefer the company of a support group who can understand what they are going through. No matter how you may express your grief, it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to do it. Whatever gives you the most comfort is the one that you should do.
There are 2 styles of grieving according to a study from 2018: intuitive and instrumental.
Intuitive grieving is when one has a heightened emotional experience. This usually manifests as a sharing of feeling, digging deep into the intricacies of the lost relationship, and thinking about mortality.
On the other hand instrumental grieving has a more to-do attitude. The focus is shifted onto problem solving tasks, and is characterised by controlling or down-playing emotions.
Whether you grieve in an intuitive or instrumental manner, one is not better than the other. It is just the nature of some people to be more introspective and emotional, whereas some prefer to stay productive. Every individual has unique and personalised needs when it comes to dealing with loss.
What are the models of grief?
You have probably already heard that there are stages to grief, and that there are steps before you can fully say you have dealt with a loss. However, there are actually various models and frameworks out there that can fit a variety of people. Psychologists and other researchers have come up with models of grief that highlight the different processes.
Dual Process Model
One of the models of grief is the dual process model or theory which is an alternative that identifies two processes that are linked to the process of bereavement.
The first are loss-oriented activities that are closely linked to the death. They are characterized by experiencing resentment, anger, yearning, crying, dwelling on how a person died, and generally avoiding restoration activities.
Restoration-oriented activities and stressors are related to secondary losses. These usually come with a change in routine, activities and lifestyle. These include making changes in a normal routine, adapting a new way of life, and making new connections.
In the dual process model, it is recommended that a person who is grieving should switch back and forth between the loss-oriented and restoration-oriented type of activities.
Five Stages of Grief
The Five Stages of Grief is undoubtedly the most popular model of grief there is. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified a linear model of the five steps: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
This model was initially crafted to illustrate the process of bereavement, but it is now known to adapt to any type of grief. It is noted in the model that an individual is bound to experience at least two of the five stages of grief. It has also been noted that one may jump from one stage to another, and keep repeating the process until the final step has been achieved.
Four Tasks of Mourning
The third of the models of grief is by Psychologist J.W. Worden, which are the Four Tasks of Mourning. This is a stage-based model that is intended to help those who want to accept and move on from the death of a loved one.
The process of grief is detailed into four tasks of mourning, namely: accepting the reality of the loss, working through the pain, adjusting to life without the deceased, and maintaining a connection to the deceased while living life.
How does the process of grieving go?
There is no one-size-fits-all model of grief to follow. What works for someone may not work for you, so it is important that you keep trying. Everyone has their own way of grieving and dealing with loss, and there is no timeline that you need to follow except for your own.
You will definitely be going through a whirlwind of emotions that will be overwhelming and confusing at the same time. It is during this period that you need to become more mindful, and pay as much attention to self care as you can.
There is also no need to feel guilty over being happy. This is a common thing that people who are grieving feel guilty for, but do know that you have every right to experience happiness. Just because you have experienced a loss does not mean you have to be in a perpetual state of suffering.
What is “complicated grief”?
While grief is not something that a person can ever completely recover from, time usually does it job of softening the pain. However, a number of people may go through something that is called as complicated grief.
Complicated grief is usually characterized by suffering or bereavement which spans for more than one year. The symptoms for this are more severe and persistent than normal grief. If you or your loved one may be experiencing this, it is best to seek professional help to work through your emotions.
Broken Heart Syndrome
It is true that no one can die of grief or a broken heart. However, the stress brought about by losing someone can negatively affect your health.
If a person goes through a shocking or overwhelming event, the body is filled with stress hormones which can then lead to a person’s heart to swell and stop pumping. The problem with this is that the rest of the heart continues to beat which leads blood flowing unevenly. In effect, a person may feel intense chest pain that is similar to a heart attack. However, this is only a temporary problem dubbed as the broken heart syndrome.
This is generally a short-term problem and a person will recover in a week, at max. It is very rare for the broken heart syndrome to lead to permanent illnesses.
Grief comes in many forms and expressions. We recommend that you take some time for yourself and find out what will help you deal with your emotions in a healthy manner. If you will need more assistance in processing your grief, you may contact a therapist to guide you through your bereavement. Remember: you are not alone.