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What is bereavement?

Bereavement also referred to as a grief reaction is a term used to describe the sense of loss felt when a loved one passes away. The sense of loss might come with a range of different emotions such as sadness, anger, anxiety and guilt. Although this is a normal process that everyone goes through sometimes bereavement can be an overwhelming experience or bring up particularly unmanageable feelings depending on the nature of the relationship to the person that passed away resulting in ‘complicated bereavement’. This can then cause difficulties such as the individual becoming withdrawn, angry or even experiencing symptoms of depression.

What are the symptoms of bereavement?

  • Intense sorrow and pain at the thought of your loved one
  • Focus on little else but your loved one’s death
  • Extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or avoidance of reminders
  • Difficulties accepting the death
  • Numbness and/or detachment
  • Feeling that life has no purpose
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Inability to enjoy life or think back on positive experiences with your loved one

If these symptoms don’t improve over time it might be helpful to seek therapy. Some of the signs that your bereavement might be more complicated and requiring treatment would be:

  • Having trouble carrying out normal routines or activities
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of guilt or self blame
  • Persistent belief that you did something wrong or could have prevented the death
  • Loss of sense of purpose in life
  • Feeling that life isn’t worth living without your loved one
  • Wish that you had died along with your loved one

If you experience these symptoms, make an appointment to see your GP or contact us.

Treatment for bereavement

Therapy for bereavement can be helpful in understanding your loss and how it has impacted you and your life. There are different types of therapy that are beneficial when struggling with bereavement such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, cognitive-analytic therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. All the psychologists at The Chelsea Psychology Clinic have experience in the treatment of bereavement.