Coping with loss: the phases of bereavement

A great wave of painful and unfamiliar emotions washes over you when someone you love dies. The intensity of it all can affect your mental and physical health.

We care, so we’re here to guide you through the five different stages of grief. This way you can understand your feelings better and begin a healthy healing process.

The five stages of grief

  • Denial

    When you’re in denial you might feel numbness towards the world around you, and maybe even within yourself too. If you feel this way it could be because you’re in shock and you don’t know how to deal with it yet. Your brain is in a sort of survival mode.

    This feeling can last anything between a few hours up to a couple of days. Take time off from work, embrace the loving comfort of those around you and try your best to get some rest.

  • Anger

    You may go through a confusing state of emotions coupled with unanswerable questions. How can you be mad at someone for dying? Who are you actually mad at? Who can you blame for this untimely death? All in all you’re feeling turmoil of anger towards the situation itself.  

    Remember, your anger is a secondary emotion coming from a deeper feeling of emptiness, abandonment, loneliness or even guilt. Think about what it is that’s causing this anger, and then talk about it to your friends and family. Voice your emotions. It’s an empowering feeling and can help strengthen you through this time.

  • Bargaining

    As you begin accepting the truth, you may start coming up with imaginary scenarios, rationalising ways to bring your loved one back or thinking of things that could have prevented this from happening.

    This feeling is completely normal. But remember, excessive what-if thinking can be bad for your mental well-being. So it’s okay to wonder, but don’t get fixated.

  • Depression

    Empty, lonely and tired. You may face a loss of appetite or start picking up weight. Maybe you’ll struggle with insomnia, or even start oversleeping entirely. You could also be facing a loss of interest in fun activities and social interactions.

    Try and let these feelings of sadness wash over you to cleanse you. Let your friends and family be there for you and don’t be afraid to talk about it.  If your depression is inhibiting you from completing every day tasks, functioning at work, or if you start having suicidal thoughts, you must seek professional guidance.

  • Acceptance

    At the final stage of bereavement, you’ll start feeling at peace with what happened. Acceptance doesn’t mean that your pain is all gone, but rather that you’re starting to have more good days than bad days.

    At this point it may start getting easier for you to go through photos and think back on memories of your time spent together. Appreciate these moments of joy and be proud of yourself for getting this far. Don’t supress your sadness when it does come up though – the hurt isn’t gone; it’s just okay now.

Understanding grief

The emotions you’re feeling are normal. Grief is a psychological symptom of loss. You shouldn't be ashamed or afraid to grieve. Supressing your grief and sadness is harmful to your healing process.

Sometimes the hurt is so bad that you need additional support outside of your friends and family network. Seek a psychologist’s help if you feel you can’t cope at all, because excessive grieving can lead to chronic depression.

You’ll have unique ways of coping with every stage of grief. A psychologist can also help you understand your emotions better and help you through this troubling period.

We know that what you’re going through is overwhelming. Take a deep breath, be patient with yourself, and stay strong.

Your moments mean a lot to us

 Let us help you with the next stage of your journey.

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Email us at: 

virtualadviser@absa.co.za