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  • Jan Mcdonald

Understanding bereavement.

Bereavement, which is the experience of losing someone close to us, can have a profound impact on individuals; it is a complex experience that can affect people in different ways. The effects of bereavement can be both physical and emotional and can vary depending on factors such as the individual's relationship with the person who has died, their age, and their support network.

Here are some of the ways in which bereavement can affect people:

  1. Emotional effects: Bereavement can cause a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, and depression. These emotions can be intense and long-lasting and can affect a person's ability to function in their daily life.

  2. Physical effects: Bereavement can also have physical effects, such as fatigue, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances.

  3. Cognitive effects: Bereavement can also affect a person's ability to concentrate, remember things, and make decisions.

  4. Social effects: The loss of a loved one can lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness, particularly if the person who has died was a close companion. It can also impact a person's social life and relationships with others.

  5. Spiritual effects: For some people, bereavement can also have spiritual effects, leading to questions about the meaning of life, death, and the afterlife.

There are several common theories on the stages of grief, which describe the emotional and psychological process that people go through after experiencing a significant loss. Here are some of the most well-known theories:

1. Kübler-Ross model: Developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, this model outlines five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages are not necessarily linear or predictable, and individuals may not experience all of them or in the same order.

2. Worden's model: Developed by grief counsellor J. William Worden, this model includes four tasks of mourning: accepting the reality of the loss, working through the pain of grief, adjusting to life without the person who died, and finding a way to maintain a connection with the person while also moving on.

3. Parkes and Bowlby's model: Developed by psychiatrists Colin Murray Parkes and John Bowlby, this model includes four phases of grief: numbness, yearning and searching, disorganization and despair, and reorganization.

4. Stroebe and Schut's model: Developed by psychologists Margaret Stroebe and Henk Schut, this model includes a dual process of grief, which involves oscillating between coping with the loss and coping with life changes that result from the loss.

It is important to note that grief is a highly individual experience and that these models are not universal. People will experience grief differently and not necessarily follow any model or theory. Overall, it is important for individuals who are experiencing bereavement to seek support from family, friends, or a mental health professional.


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