Grief over Loss of a Loved One Grief, Loss and Mourning
No matter how much we wish it wouldn't happen, there are times when we are faced with grief, grief over which we
seem to have no control.
Sometimes it is grief caused by the death of a relative, sometimes by the sudden passing away of a friend. Other
times the grief and sadness may be caused by the death of a pet. Whatever the cause of the grief, it is a
experienced by everyone very differently.
Some cultures have grief and mourning rituals that they find very comforting, others mourn in other ways. Some
find it hard to talk about the person or pet that has died, others talk about them constantly. There is no right or
wrong way to deal with death. There is no right or wrong way to mourn, but however we do grieve, the bereavement
time can be incredibly difficult for all those involved directly or indirectly.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (1926 -2004) was a Swiss-born psychiatrist and the author of On Death and Dying,
where she discussed the stages of grief. This has become known as the Kübler-Ross model (From Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia). This cycle of grief includes five stages, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and
acceptance, but not everyone goes through all these stages, or goes through them in the same sequence.
The type of grief experienced depends to some extent on the cause of death, whether it was expected, whether it
was natural or the result of an accident or murder, and the relationship to the person that has died. To some
people, the loss of a pet may be more traumatic even than the loss of a parent or sibling, depending on the
And the effect a death has on a person varies greatly.
Some people are filled with guilt, and in the case of a terminally ill person, this is entirely understandable.
There is relief that the person is no longer suffering, but guilt that they are actually pleased the person has
died. There is guilt for the last words spoken to a person in anger, not knowing that they would be the last words.
There is guilt for not doing more to help, and oh, so many other things that cause us guilt.
There can be intense sadness, relief perhaps that the person has died, but sadness that they are no longer there
for you, that you have been left behind, perhaps alone. There can be extreme anger at this too, that you have been
left to cope alone. Depression may follow the death of a loved one, and remember too that this could be the death
of a much-loved pet. Some people, especially the elderly, live for their pets, as it gives them a useful place in
society, but when that pet dies, often so does the will to live. The sense of loss can be enormous.
The length of bereavement varies with individuals too, from a few weeks to a few years. The time spent mourning
really does vary this much. So, what can we do about this loss? WE have to let people grieve in their own way, be
supportive of them if they want to talk. Respect their privacy if they don't, but be there for them later if the
need arises. We should not minimize a person's loss, for how can we know what they are feeling and going through?
We can suggest help groups for support, and perhaps do some research for them on this topic. But above all, we have
to be understanding, as difficult as this may be, but know that at some stage of our lives, we too will be