what to expect when you are bereaved
They have books on what to expect when you're expecting. Here's what I think you can expect when you are bereaved.
- The unexpected. There will be surprises. Even if you've experienced bereavement before, this will be different. You are at a different place in your life. The person you lost is different. Even if you knew it was coming (due to advanced age or extended illness), you may still be stunned by the reality now that they are really gone for good.
- Variability. (See above.) Every individual is an individual. Their coping skills will vary. Their history and relationship with the person they lost will vary. Circumstances surrounding the death will vary. Support systems will vary. All of these factors and more will influence what happens next. Your reaction will depend quite a bit on the role the person played in your life, how much you cared for them, and whether you had any unfinished business. Don't expect your experience to be just like those of others. However, there will be some common denominators. See Stages of Grief.
- Numbness, pain and sadness. In the first few days or weeks, numbness may set in - it is probably a survival mechanism. There will also be some strong emotions that may overwhelm you at times.
- Disorientation. A friend made an analogy of life as a puzzle. Someone has taken all the pieces, run them through a shredder, and then dumped them on the floor. You will now need to sort through them and figure out how to put the puzzle of your life back together again.
- Change. As a result of loss, you will change. Your life will change. You can exercise some control over some of the changes if you choose to. You will also probably experience things you might never have experienced if your loved one did not die, and grow in ways you would not have expected.
- Mixed understanding. Some people around you will not understand (or want to understand), or being able to relate to what you are going through. More.
- Life goes on. Initially your own life may appear to have gone on hold or stopped. You may get stuck in the past for a while. That is where the person you loved now is. Despite that, life will go on around you. If you choose to survive, you life will also go on. Expect some setbacks though.