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Bereavement - Definition, Symptoms & Causes

Bereavement is experienced when a loved one dies. Bereavement may involve troubling thoughts, difficult feelings, and strong emotions. Bereavement is a part of life that can feel unbearable. A person who has been bereaved may feel alright one day, then feel worse the next day. Bereaved people are everywhere. Some cultures, through their customs, recognise and support bereaved people. Other cultures are uncomfortable or avoid the subject of bereavement and offer little support to bereaved people.

Symptoms of Bereavement

When a loved one dies, a bereaved person may be shocked, numbed, or dazed. They may feel overwhelming sadness, cry a lot, and become exhausted. Anger may be a part of bereavement. A bereaved person may be angry at the person who died, an illness, doctors, nurses, or a divine being if they have a faith, for leaving them with so much pain. Guilt may also occur in bereavement, for being angry, for having said or not said something, or for not having been able to save the loved person.

Causes of Bereavement Issues

Bereavement may involve four phases. A bereaved person may move through each phase, or move back and forth amongst them. The first phase of bereavement is accepting the loss is real. The second phase is experiencing the pain of grief. The third phase is adjusting to life without the person who died. The fourth and final phase is letting go of the person who died in order to allow someone or something new in. Some people navigate bereavement. Other people find it very difficult to cope with bereavement.

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Updated 08 July 2011