GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT
There is a difference between bereavement and loss.
Bereavement: Bereavement is the process a person goes through when they have lost a loved one or someone that they are close to. It also involves the process a person goes through as they face losing their own life.
Everyone deals with their loss differently. The way a person deals with death can depend on such things as past experiences, culture, the way the person dies, etc. Bereavement is a natural process. Just because death is natural doesn’t make it easy to deal with. It is a difficult process of letting go and moving on.
There is a natural bereavement process to go through, with different stages which you can move in and out of as you progress. Kubler Ross listed these stages as
- Acceptance and Hope.
The symptoms of bereavement can be both physical and emotional in nature.
A person must move through this process in order to come to acceptance. If a person gets stuck in any one of the stages listed above then it becomes complicated grief.
Complicated grief happens when a person cannot face and express or accept their feelings which they need to work through. For example, anger is an emotion that some people feel is unacceptable and will not acknowledge in themselves.
Complicated grief usually occurs when the person has other losses in the past that they have not worked through and so the death brings up all the other losses as well. It can become overwhelming for the person.
Therapy can be very helpful in working through normal and complicated grief. It can be a platform to express, to remember and to work through emotions.
For people who are grieving from a death, chances are their loved ones are too. They might not want to talk about their feelings in case they upset their loved ones. In therapy a person can get a chance to express and talk without the worry of affecting anyone else.
Grief: Grief is broader than bereavement. It encompasses and includes any loss that a person has suffered in their lifetime which they have not dealt with or processed. If you are feeling sad and overwhelmed and you do not know why then you may be carrying old grief.
Grief can be caused by such things as having a difficult childhood, not getting on with your parents, feeling not understood, bullying when younger, not feeling connected to people, not feeling you have achieved what you wanted to achieve etc.
The process of therapy allows exploration of this grief, looking at how it still affects you today, working through it and accepting it for what it is.
Once you understand and work through it, the grief loses its strength.
SUICIDE AND SELF-HARM
Self-harm is the process whereby a person intentionally physically hurts themselves but without the intention of killing themselves.
Examples of self- harm can include cutting, burning, banging their head.
The majority of people who self-harm say that they do it, either to distract from the emotional pain they are going through, or alternatively, to feel pain when otherwise all they feel is numbness.
Self-harm behaviour can give relief for a short period of time but it is usually quickly followed by feelings of guilt, shame, disbelief etc.
Suicide is the ultimate form of self-harm.
It is defined as the act of intentionally and voluntarily taking ones own life. It is an aggressive act against the person. A person who is suicidal can have a sense of unbearable psychological pain and feel that death is the only solution.
Suicidality includes people who commit suicide, who make a suicide attempt, who think about killing themselves and those bereaved by suicide.
The person who wants to die usually feels hopeless, worthless, not understood and a burden. They often feel that suicide is the only way to stop the pain. It is the biggest killer of young people and, in particular, young men in this country.
People who have lost someone to suicide have a more complicated grieving process. They deal with the added questions of why and what could they have done etc. They also have to deal with a lot of guilt.
A Common misconceptions is that people who tell you they are suicidal are only looking for attention. If someone tells you that they are suicidal, take them seriously. They are not looking for attention, they are desperately looking for help.
If you have someone you know who is suicidal or who you think might be suicidal the most important thing to do is to talk to them. Ask them outright if they are suicidal. Allow them the space to talk and express. Do not dismiss how they feel.
It is almost always a relief to the person to be able to talk about their feelings and thoughts. The common reaction to someone who tells you they are suicidal is to tell them not to feel like that. They often get dismissed.
It is also important to get them professional help. Usually there are a wide range of complicated and unresolved issues that the person needs to work through.
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