Early stages of grief

We suffer bereavement when someone close to us dies. The acute sense of loss and overwhelming sadness together with other associated emotions are collectively called grief.

Grief is very normal and is nature’s way of allowing us to come to terms over time with the death of a loved one. Grief can take many forms and many emotions will be felt by people during the various stages that make up the grieving process.

The length of the grieving (or mourning) process will vary enormously but it is generally accepted that it can take two years to recover from the loss of someone very close.

An understanding of grief and the emotions involved won’t lessen your terrible sense of sadness and loss but it may help you accept a little better what you are going through.

Numbness and shock

The immediate reaction to the death of a loved one is numbness and shock. This is a natural reaction by the body to allow a person to cope with the devastating news particularly if the death is sudden or unexpected.

You will also feel a sense of disbelief. People often find it impossible to accept that the person has died and will find they question the situation over and over again as their mind battles with the reality of death.

At the same time, it is likely you will feel physically crushed almost as if you have suffered a body blow. It is also very normal to cry a lot and feel unable to cope.

This feeling of debilitation may be compounded by lack of sleep resulting in a cycle of ongoing exhaustion. A period of intense emotion follows the death of a loved one.

This often takes the form of a deep yearning to see them, to talk to them and to keep their memory alive. It is not uncommon at this stage to have visual and auditory hallucinations. Difficulties with concentration and decision making are also very common.

You may find it helpful to understand that there is some light at the end of the tunnel and that will come a time when you do begin to feel happier again and more able to get on with your life.