When our loved one passes on, it is normal to feel sad and lonely. Learn more about the five stages of grief and know when you should get help
Grief is our way of reacting when we lose someone or something important to you. When our loved one passes on, it is normal to feel sad and lonely. If you were the main caregiver for your loved one, you could feel even more upset since you spent a lot of time with him/ her.
There are usually 5 stages of grief. You may not experience the stages in the exact order shown. It is completely normal to go back and forth between different stages, or to skip stages. You may not even experience all the stages.
Just look at the stages as a guide to help you during your difficult time, so that you understand what you are feeling.
You may block out reality at this stage. You may not want to face the facts about what is happening. Sometimes, you may end up wanting to spend a lot of time alone, because you do not want to deal with the outside world. This is your natural reaction to a painful time. It is your mind’s
way of ensuring that the pain does not affect you all together at the same time.
What you can do:
Get involved in the practical matters after your loved one’s passing. Be active in arranging the funeral and talk to those who come to pay their respects. Communicate with your children and other family members as much as possible. You do not need to force yourself to be cheerful if you do not feel like it.
At this stage, you may try to blame others or yourself for what happened. You might argue with healthcare professionals or the funeral director. You may blame doctors or other family members. Sometimes, you might even get angry with complete strangers, or feel that the whole world is against you.
Find out as much as you can about your loved one’s death. Ask the doctor to explain to you one more time about your loved one’s illness. Give yourself some time to accept what is happening. When you have a clear idea of what is going on, you will not end up imagining things.
Bargaining is known as the ‘if only’ stage. Bargaining happens because you are feeling helpless, and you want to know if there is something you could have done differently. You might tell yourself, “If only I had been more patient,” or “Maybe we should have gone to another doctor.” This is very common among caregivers.
For now, you can accept that this is a natural part of grief. Do not make any important decisions based on your feelings at this point. Just try to be patient and work through the feelings. At this stage, it is important to communicate with your closest family and friends.
At the depression stage, you may feel a great sense of sadness about everything. You might feel that you cannot move on. You might feel lonely. You might even worry about your own health and be afraid that you might also fall seriously ill.
Take time to grieve about your loved one. Spend some time remembering him/ her, and talk about good memories with your family and friends. You do not need to force yourself to cheer up, because it is normal to feel sad. Express your feelings to those closest to you.
At this stage, you will come to accept what has happened. You will come to terms with the situation and accept your loss. This does not mean that you will suddenly become very happy. You may still feel sad. It is just that you are able to deal with your sadness better.
Try to take more interest in everyday activities. This will help to replace some of the painful memories.
There is a difference between grief and serious depression. Serious depression is a mental illness that can put you and your health at risk.
If you experience any of these, see your doctor or visit a counsellor:
You feel that your grief is making you unhealthy or sick
You feel that you have been grieving for much longer than you want to
You keep thinking about harming yourself or ending your life
You are worried that you might hurt others
You are hallucinating (hearing or seeing things that are not there, or hearing and seeing things that make you feel scared)
Your behaviour changes suddenly (like eating very little or eating too much)
You have felt hopeless and unable to cope with life for more than two weeks
You cannot function at home, work or school
You just cannot get over a feeling of guilt if your speaking and body movements have become slow and tired
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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