Grief and loss: the process of healing

Grief can be described as the emotional, psychological and physical response that a person experiences after a loss. When we speak of grief, we are not only referring to the death of a loved one. There are other types of loss, such as a break up, dismissal from work, loss of health, etc. These are some examples of natural and normal losses that people can experience throughout their lives, which leads them to go through a process of emotional adaptation.

However, among all of them, the death of a loved one has a deeper emotional, physical, spiritual and social impact on most human beings. 

The pain experienced in this circumstance is too much. It is characterized by a deep sadness and also by an enormous desire to be with that person again. According to psychiatrists Holmes and Rahe (1967), the death of a loved one is the most shocking stressor that a person can face in his or her life. 

In addition, during this process the person may experience other diverse symptoms, such as: insomnia or hypersomnia, demotivation, inhibition and/or lack of appetite.

 

 

There are many specialists who dedicated much of their lives to studying and providing relevant information about grief and its process. One of the main theories best known and accepted by doctors, specialists and the general public was proposed by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who provided and presented the general model of the five stages of grief that explain how people tend to feel and act at different moments. The five stages of grief are:

Denial: This involves ignoring or “not falling” on what happened. 

Anger: resentment, frustration and impotence. Anger can also be focused on the person who died and “left him/her alone”. 

Bargaining: at this stage, the person begins to reflect on what he or she could have done to avoid that loss. 

Depression: presence of deep sadness. The sense of things/life can be lost and the person can end up isolating.

Acceptance: when you accept the death of that person and learn to live with their absence and move on with your life. 

 

Not everyone who suffers a loss necessarily has to go through all five stages, and those who do may go through it in a different order. For example, one person may achieve acceptance in a short time, and another may take a year or more to reach that stage. 

Grief is a very personal process and the way each one deals with pain is different from the others.

 

The way in which each human being experiences and processes his or her suffering cannot be measurable. During the process, the person adapts to the new reality in their own time, until they are ready to accept it.

Perhaps you have ever heard phrases or advice to overcome or cope with a loss. For example: “You have to give it time and you will be better”, “Keep your time busy”, “Be strong”, “Replace the loss with …”, etc. However, pain must be respected and takes time to overcome. 

If you find yourself in a situation in which you have not yet been able to process the loss of a loved one or something in particular and you need help to go through it, you can consult with a specialized and qualified mental health professional.

Psychologists have tools and resources to help you feel better, overcome sadness, and build resilience.

  

To meet and connect with one of our experts in the field, visit the Nuna directory.

Constanza Canónica
Constanza Canónica

Nuna's psychologist. If you need advice to find a therapist, I can help you choose the most suitable one for you!

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