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Bereavement and grief: how to understand and live them?

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult trials to go through in life. It confronts us with intense feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, fear, loneliness. It forces us to face a void, an absence, a break. It questions us about the meaning of our existence, our values, our projects.

Facing this situation, it is normal and necessary to live a process of bereavement and grief. But what does that mean exactly? What is the difference between these two terms? How to approach and cross them in a positive, motivating and inspiring way?

Today, I felt like sharing with you my ideas and advice about this painful but necessary topic, as it is part of life.

Mourning and grieving

1. Bereavement is the situation.

Bereavement is the state, the situation in which a person who has lost someone finds himself. It is an objective reality, an indisputable fact. Bereavement is universal, it concerns everyone, regardless of their culture, religion or personality.

Bereavement is therefore an unwanted event, even if predictable a starting point, a wound. There is no possible choice, it imposes itself on us.

There is also no defined duration. Depending on the concerned individual, it can last a few days, a few months, or even a few years.

It is often associated with death, but it can also concern other types of losses: a separation, a divorce, a friendly break-up, a layoff, an illness, a disability, etc.

2. Grief is the reaction.

Grief is the psychological process by which a person copes with mourning. It is a subjective experience, which varies according to individuals. Grief is singular, it depends on the relationship we had with the deceased, the context of death, the support we have.

Grief is therefore a reaction, a path, a healing. It involves a personal choice, it depends on us. It also involves a variable duration, it can be prolonged or shortened according to our evolution.

Grief is often described as a journey composed of several stages or phases: shock, denial, anger, sadness, acceptance. But it is not a rigid or linear model. Everyone can live these stages in a different order or go back. It is therefore quite possible to go through some stages several times, before being able to progress to the very last one.

3. How to live your bereavement and grief?

Living your bereavement and grief is not easy of course. It requires strength, courage, patience and kindness towards yourself and others. Here are some tips that can hopefully help you:

  • Accept your emotions.

Don't try to repress or deny them. They are normal and legitimate. They are part of the "healing" process, but I prefer to say soothing or acceptance. Express them freely, whether through speech, writing or any other form of artistic expression. You can talk to a friend, a family member or any person you trust. You can also keep a diary, write letters, poems or songs. You can also draw, paint, sculpt or dance.

  • Take care of yourself.

Don't neglect yourself physically or mentally. Don't turn yourself off! Give yourself time to rest, relax, enjoy yourself. Do activities that make you feel good, that bring you comfort or entertainment. You can do sports, meditation, yoga, massage, relaxation. You can also read, listen to music, watch a movie, play a game, cook, garden, etc. Take all the time you need on both sides of your daily life to walk this path of resilience.

  • Seek support.

Don't isolate yourself or withdraw from others. Surround yourself with people who love you and understand you. Share your feelings, your memories, your difficulties, your hopes. Don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it, whether from your loved ones, associations

or helplines. You can contact specific associations. You can also call special helplines.

  • Honor your loved one.

Don't act as if she or he never existed or that you had to forget her or him. And above all, don't let anyone make you think it's the right thing to do. On the contrary,

show her/him, as much and as often as you want it, that you remember her/him, that you recognize her/his place in your life, even if she or he is no longer physically around.

Indeed, she or he remains present in mind and in your heart. Her or his love stayed with you and the love you had for her or him is still very much alive. It is precisely this love, which you both will continue to share, that will help you feel better as time passes.

You can continue to communicate with your loved one. Talk to her/him. Write to her/him. Tell her/him memories, anecdotes, character traits. Use her/his first name, look at her/his photos, listen to her/his favorite songs. Create rituals, symbolic moments, tributes, alone with that person or with people who loved her/him as much as you do.

You can also talk about her/him in the present tense. You don't have to use past conjugation tenses.

Remember that:

Love stays even when life goes away!

  • Open yourself to life... with or without her/him.

Don't lock yourself in the past or in regret. Don't go backwards, but rather look forward with or without this person. Include her or him in your present and in your future, if that's how you feel best, without making her or him omnipresent or forgetting the rest of the world.

Recognize opportunities, changes, progress that come your way in your life that allow you to make her/him "live" as long as you want by your side, especially if moving away from her/him is truly uncomfortable or inconceivable to you at the moment.

See also what will allow you to move forward alone on your side. Your life didn't end with hers/his. Have projects, dreams, take up challenges that will help you give taste to your daily life. Live fully, intensely, authentically.

4. Conclusion.

Bereavement and grief are thus both universal and singular experiences. Both confront us with pain, but also with resilience. Both teach us that while we lose something, we can also choose to gain something. A part of us does die, but a new part of us is also reborn at the same time, that we have to discover along the process.

Living your bereavement and grief is to accept to cross the shadow to find the light. It is to accept to let go to rebuild yourself. It is to accept to say goodbye to say hello.

If, like me, you are currently facing bereavement and grief, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you to live them with as much serenity as possible, a lot of courage and huge hope. I wish you to find your own way to happiness, soothing and then peace.

If you liked this article, don't hesitate to share it, comment on it or contact me. I would be delighted to exchange with you on this topic.

Thank you for reading me. See you soon! 😊


Who am I?

Everything I want to be!

Estelle CHARLERY - Author, blogger and life coach
Estelle CHARLERY - Author, blogger and life coach


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