Loss through Death:
Your grief is unique to you and is a natural reaction to the loss of a relationship. It may be a family loss or a non-familial loss that may feel like ‘family’ because the relationship provided a secure bond of caring, loyalty, and emotional support.
- Partner or ex-partner
- Other relative
- Other significant person
Some personal losses are not visible to others, yet the loss may take centre stage in your life. In these situations, you may feel your grief profoundly with little social support or empathy from others. You may act ‘as if’ you are all right and this can place an even greater emotional demand on you at this highly vulnerable time:
- Non-traditional and socially unsanctioned unions
- Newborn death and sudden infant death
- Adoption (losses sustained by adoptee, adopted parents, and birth parents)
- Failed Adoption
When a person you are close to contracts a progressive or terminal illness, you may begin a gradual mourning process at the time of diagnosis. The illness may alter the personality of your significant other, which you may experience incrementally as a sense of loss of the person as you knew them. With an elderly person, you may begin to prepare yourself for the inevitable separation by mentally and emotionally ‘rehearsing’ their absence before it occurs. This grief before death occurs with:
- Protracted illness (Cancer, Alzheimer’s and other medical conditions)
- Old age
Complicated grief may follow the death of someone very important and emotionally close to you. You may become ‘stuck’ or blocked in the mourning process, and find yourself unable to adjust over time to your life without your significant other.
Complicated grief is a prolonged, acute, intensely painful response to the death of someone to whom you are deeply attached. Some key features are persistent intrusive thoughts about the person who died, troubling ideas about the wrongfulness of the death including guilty remorse, and the continuous avoidance of reminders that your significant person is gone. Additionally, this form of grief is accompanied by an ongoing sense of disbelief in the loss, an inability to gradually accept the death as final, and a decreased interest and engagement in everyday ongoing life.
You may also be experiencing anger and bitterness, distrust of others, and a profound sense of loneliness. Further, you may have a belief that you would lose the sense of connection to your loved one or be betraying the dead person if your mourning process was less intense.
While any death that is personally devastating can cause traumatic grief, a death can be inherently traumatic (gruesome, shocking, sudden, violent). Traumatic grief overwhelms your coping abilities. It combines separation anxiety with traumatic distress and may persist for several months and sometimes years. Traumatic grief may result from (but is not limited to):
- Sudden death
- Murder / Suicide
- Natural disasters
- Sudden illness
- Terrorist acts