It is probably not helpful to consider the time-frame or length of a bereavement as it would inevitably rely upon a complete recovery from the loss and a definition of what recovery means. This would seem a strange thing to do as the death of someone close is permanent and although we will probably find a way forward as time goes by, there will always be a gap where the dead person once was; there will always be reminders of who they were.
What Is Bereavement And Grief?
Bereavement is the loss of someone who had played a role in your life and grief is the emotion you feel in such a situation.
The aim during bereavement is to find the way forward into a new life without the person who has died. This may take a long time; the road will be very difficult and there will be good times and bad times along the way; there may be times when you feel it is not possible to return to a meaningful life. You may experience emotions such as denial, anger, despair and anxiety and move between them from time-to-time.
It may be useful to imagine that your mind is working its way through your bereavement. Your mind needs to relocate the person who has died from the present to the past. In the early days, many normal activities in your life will be a reminder that the person is no longer with you. This will change over time as you adapt your life style and take on new activities. This does not mean the deceased person is missed any less; it is just that everyday matters are not a constant reminder of your loss.
Signs of progress may include an ability to perform every day tasks without assistance, or a desire to take part in new activities; there are many others. Being able to talk about the person who has died with positive feelings of remembrance rather than painful feelings of despair suggests that your mind is relocating the deceased into a healthier position. However, beware: there may be false dawns and set backs are common; you may take two steps forward before one step back. Accept this and allow yourself time and space with your emotions.
It is important to understand that although bereavement is awful and painful it is also a natural reaction – there is nothing wrong with you. Perhaps in our culture where life expectancy and quality of life is higher than it has ever been it renders death more of a shock than it once was. Human existence has evolved in wonderful ways but it has not found a way to ease bereavement. Although some may take comfort in a religious belief or faith, it will not immunise them from the pain of the death of a loved one. Therefore, we cannot just fix the problem as we can with so many other aspects of life. The sense of shock caused by the death will depend upon many factors:-
The circumstances of the death: a sudden and unanticipated death is more of a shock than one where a protracted illness has provided time to contemplate it
The age of the person who has died
Your relationship to the deceased: The more central the deceased was to your lifestyle, the more obvious your loss will be.
The most acute circumstances unfortunately being the most common – spouses who are retired and living constantly in each others company cannot help but be reminded of their loss every hour of the day upon the death of one of them.
While your bereavement is unique to you it is important to remember you are not alone although you may feel as though you are, and that many others having experienced similar troubles to you have survived to find a new and meaningful life. There is no quick or easy fix: you must allow yourself the time to work through your bereavement.