The experience of having a bereavement can be a very sudden, surprising, and traumatic event in people’s lives – yet it is also a very common experience.
Death, – will come to us all, and to people we are close to, partners; family; and friends – though is often not acknowledged or sometimes even talked about, – especially in western society
When a death occurs, many people find themselves alone with their grief and find it difficult to ‘keep calm and carry on’. Often going through the initial aftermath can feel like being on autopilot and the person bereaved is in a kind of dazed state finding themselves unable to think or react properly. They may have to care unexpectedly for others affected by the death when barely able to cope themselves. Tensions can arise with family members with regard to the funeral arrangements and indirectly open up old wounds. Then when the practical things are arranged, – the funeral takes place; everyone turns up for the burial or cremation; – and then they all go away again. Then, there is often feelings of emptiness…
Alone with these unbearable feelings, people can find they are in need of something to alleviate the pain. They are in a new place, – a new situation. Very often without support and no one to talk to, they run the risk of turning to drink and drugs because for a while it makes them feel better. They may find they have more than their usual one glass of wine every evening and instead have a second glass and then finish the bottle. This can then happen the next day and the day after. They may have taken drugs previously or only experimented with cannabis. This can then increase with the need to escape from the feelings. It can be a slippery slope… leading to becoming addicted….
Still, – the emptiness continues … going back into the home of the deceased and still feeling the presence of the person who has passed away whilst knowing they will no longer be there again. The realisation that they are gone; the realisation that there will not now ever be an opportunity to speak to the person again; have a laugh and a joke with them; hear their voice and see their smile again – ever….
Bereavement, though usually associated with a death can also occur in other circumstances such as a relationship breakdown; redundancy; children leaving home or going to live abroad.
Talking to a Counsellor about these feelings can be a beneficial relief. The opportunity to speak with a professional in a safe and confidential environment can allow people to fully express and outline in some depth the feelings that the loss has brought to their lives. Over a number of counselling sessions, people can come to terms with the situation they now find themselves in and in time find a way of moving on that is best for their wellbeing.
Jon Costello MBACP