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Grief is a normal experience; it is painful but does not need medical treatment. There are three main stages.
This lasts from a few hours to one week. You may feel emotionally numb and feel as if the person hasn’t died or that you can’t accept the reality of the death.
From one week to six months (easier after three months) you feel sad, depressed, have little appetite, find yourself crying a lot, or be agitated, anxious and have little concentration. Some people feel guilty. They feel they have not done enough for the deceased. Others blame professionals or friends and family. You may find that you have physical symptoms such as pains during this phase. Most people have the feeling at some time that the deceased is present in some way and one in ten reports either seeing, hearing or smelling the dead person when they are not there. Manu of the experiences mimic depression but they are normal-you are not depressed or going mad.
Six months onwards. Symptoms subside. You start to accept the death and try to get back to normal. This takes variable time.
Coping with Grief
Grief is natural and so are your feelings. Grief is a process that has to be worked through. If it is not, then the feelings could fester and they could catch up on you in the end turning into depression. Grief should not be bottled up and needs to be let out.
Even if you seem to be having a severe reaction to the death at first, you are likely to come through the process with just the support of your friends and family or a counsellor.
It is usually best to turn to your family and friends initially. They will need to grieve themselves and the help and support that they offer you will help them to come to terms with what had happened.
Counsellors can offer support in grief and can help people work through the process in a controlled way. They are particularly useful if you find that you are not passing through the stages of grief or you are having a particularly difficult time. Bereavement counsellors aim to help you acknowledge the death by helping you talk about the circumstances surrounding it; they encourage the emotional expression of the pain of grief; they try to identify coping strategies and people who might offer support; they help the process of building a new life and help you let go of the dead person.
Not everyone passes through the stages of grief smoothly. Some people find that they do not pass through the normal stages and suffer persistent problems. Others find it difficult to grieve and do not acknowledge the death at all. Some people find that they are consumed with intense anger or feelings of betrayal which last for months. If grief is intense and unbearable it needs to be treated. Contact your doctor or a psychotherapist.