A Quick Guide to Surviving Bereavement

Nude Man and Grief - Photo by: martin - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

So much research and studies have been conducted for the purpose of explaining the process of coping with a tragic loss. Many scientists and researchers propose stages and techniques on how to overcome them. So many institutions have been established and new ones keep on appearing in order to offer professional help to those who need it. Gambling sites offer a Responsible Gambling program to help those who overspend on games, anger management institutions offer help for those traumatized and keen on arguing, PTSD clinics deal with those who have suffered some sort of trauma or loss and face the consequences, and the list goes on.

As you can see, loss and trauma and all sorts of other psychological problems can cause so much trouble and put you in an unbearable situation, let alone the loss of life. No definition is precise enough to explain what is going on with your physical and psychological state when you lose someone or something valuable in your life. And that’s why you need professional advice and help.

For the purpose of explaining and trying to captivate the process of coping with bereavement, Stroebe (2010) proposed “The dual process model of coping with bereavement”. She suggests that there are two stages you feel: you feel the loss and you restore. At times, you avoid and at times you confront the grieving process.

Of course, there are stages of denial, anger, pain, depression and finally acceptance, as explained by the Kübler-Ross model, but essentially, these stages are related to the popular myth that every grieving person must go through it and with time, the pain will fade away.

But that’s not entirely true. In fact, the grief depends on many factors, such as family bonds, the relationship status with the deceased, the reason of death, the family’s support system etc.

If the grieving person was the child of the deceased and their relationship was beyond close, it is only natural and understanding to think that the grieving period might never cease.

The grieving person will then go through all sorts of stages, including the dual stages method Stroebe proposes, and yet, how they handle the loss depends on their personality.

Stroebe adds that men tend to be more restoration-oriented while women loss-oriented. Although this may look like a general assumption, she did a research on it and her doubts were confirmed.

She explains that the two processes interlock and go in a circle. The events that happened before and after the time of death linger and make the person feel lost and unaccepting of the fact that they lost someone. This is the time when real suffering and emotional breakdowns occur. Then comes the restoration period, when the person tries to pick themselves up and tries, using the last efforts, to manage to survive the bereavement.

These two go in circles and Stroebe proposes that they have a healing effect on the survivor. First all, making sense that someone died is a step forward from the shocked phase. Secondly, focusing on what is lost, reliving the moments in the heart and head makes all the sad emotions to get out of the system and finally, focusing on restoration and how to survive the loss helps to achieve faster healing. This, according to Stroebe can be made possible if there’s a stronger oscillation towards the restoration process. When the grieving person is capable to restore, a tear or two from time to time is not dangerous at all, but instead, it shows progress and hope for the better.