Bereavement is commonly described as the state of living with loss. Those that have been bereft are forced to accept the non-negotiable reality of death, which is bound to have a series of mental, emotional, and even physical impacts on their lives. At one point or another, everyone must undergo bereavement, whether it means losing a friend or a relative. Sometimes, even the end of a relationship can be a source of bereavement.
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Everyone has a different way of dealing with loss. In many cases, it is dependent on the nature of loss. For example, when someone is suffering from a chronic disease that causes him or her great deal of pain, his or her family will mourn him or her, but his death may still come as a relief. This paper focuses on studying bereavement as an important aspect in life because it helps people to understand their grief and try to understand the subjective situation in an objective manner. One is better able to deal with them so he or she can pass through the various stages of grief and move on with life.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote one of the most important works on bereavement in her book death and dying where she detailed the seven stages of grief (Axelrod, 2006). The first is denial where persons refuse to accept the reality of their loss. Consequently, they may repress their feelings and fail to face the situation by pretending it has not happened or refusing to believe. The second step is anger. One tends to get angry perhaps with the doctor who may have been treating the patient or even with God if they are religious for taking away a loved one.
The third step is bargaining. An individual wants to try to regain control by renegotiating with God, they wish they had taken better care of the person, had been a better friend or even taken them to a more competent doctor. The fourth stage is depression; the person begins to take in the loss from a practical point of view thinking about the cost of the funeral the tasks the person used to do but cannot do anymore (Axelrod, 2006).
Depression is the first step toward acceptance, which is the last stage. After mourning, one accepts the reality of the situation and begins to move on with life. It is, however, never that simple. Sometimes, they people may regress before they fully get over the loss. Furthermore, not everyone is lucky or strong enough to get to this last stage. In fact, many people who lose loved once never live to accept the loss. Ronald Pies takes issue with the fact that under DMS-5 classification, bereavement can in some cases be categorized under mental illness, which he argues, results in misinterpretation especially by the press (Pies, 2014).
The fact that someone mourns for a loved one for more than the two weeks period for provided for the diagnosis of major stress disorder should not however taken to assume they are mentally unwell. He however insists that the DSM-5 classification should not be changed to exclude bereaved people since it would mean that someone suffering from Major depressive disorder might be denied treatment simply because they are in mourning.
One of the reasons studying bereavement is so important is therefore because it helps both individuals and health professionals tell the difference between mourning and stress related disorders. Research on the subject of bereavement has in the past few years been specialized to determine a range of severity and mental and physical health consequences of bereavement.
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In the past this has been done through examining a series of factors that tend to make and individual or group vulnerable to grief than another. The concept is often explored by studying the difference in the way genders handle loss especially if they have lost a spouse (Coon & Mitterer, 2013). In effect, both men and women have been found to become susceptible to ill health after losing a spouse.
However, it has been noted that men are more at risk of poor health and subsequent mental problems after they lose their spouses than vice versa. This has opened up a new direction for bereavement research as scientists try to determine what causes the disparity, what are the underlying challenges in the male psyche that leave him more vulnerable to grief? These questions are expected to be the basis for a framework on which future research on bereavement can be mounted.
At the end of the day, although loss is something most people would rather not deal with, it needs must be understood and to this end, research has been found to weigh in considerably. People understand that when they are mourning they feel depressed and sad and even become vulnerable to physical diseases. However, it is not clear exactly how this works out and what can be done to help them cope with grief in a better way. However, by studying bereavement, one is a position at least to have a basic understanding of his or her feelings. Therefore, an individual can do a better job of dealing with his or her loss and facing up to his or her grief.
Axelrod, J. (2006). The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief. Psych Central.
Coon, D., & Mitterer, J. (2013). Introduction to Psychology gateways to mind and behavior. California, CA: Wadsworth.
Pies, R. (2014). How the DSM-5 Got Grief, Bereavement Right. Web.