What is bereavement?
Bereavement is the experience many of us go though when we have lost someone dear to us. It is identified by grief, which is the process we go through as we adjust to the loss. Losing a loved one can have a devastating impact, whether the loss was a family member, friend or a pet. It is natural to go through a range of emotions and physical changes as we grieve but through time it will get easier. However if you are struggling to cope with the death of a loved one it may be beneficial to understand the stages of grief.
The five stages of grief:
Usually the first reaction upon hearing of the death of a loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. This is known as a common defense mechanism in which we block out the incident. Some people may take months or years in this first stage. This is known as delayed grief.
As the effects of denial start to wear off, reality and pain tend to re-emerge. The anger you are experiencing may be directed at the person who died, for example we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us, even though we know that the person is not to be blamed. We then feel guilty for being angry, and thus it makes us even more angry.
This is when we believe that there was something that we could of done differently to save our loved one. The sufferer often feels helpless and seeks to have control on the situation by asking themselves phrases such as what if i was there when it happened? I could of started CPR sooner. This is another defense mechanism to protect us from the painful reality of loss.
There are two types of depression when it comes to grief and mourning. The first one is a reaction to realistic implications relating to the loss. The most common feelings experienced in this first depression is sadness and regret. The second type is when we prepare ourselves to say goodbye which can be extremely upsetting but is needed in order for us to heal.
Not everyone reaches this stage of grief, especially when the death of your loved one was sudden and unexpected. At times you may feel like your grief is out of control but eventually your feelings will become less and less intense over time. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy will provide you with a safe space and help you accept that the loss is real and to adjust your life without your loved one.
How Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help me?
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy helps you understand the link between your thoughts, feelings and behaviors. CBT is known to help find ways to overcome your anxiety by identifying any negative patterns which cause your anxiety and transform them with healthy, positive thoughts and feelings.This is achieved by a concept called Systematic Desensitization, which is also known as exposure therapy. Your therapist will gradually expose you to situations which would normally trigger your anxiety. Eventually you will learn to replace any negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones.