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Psychological Components of Grief October 16, 2019

Girl Looking down and grieving

It is often said that no two people experience grief in exactly the same way. How an individual processes the loss of a loved one can be complicated and based on a variety of factors. These factors can include the circumstances surrounding a death, religious beliefs, a person’s personality and how they experienced the death of a loved one earlier in life. We may try to comfort someone who is grieving by telling them their grief is “normal” or “should be expected”, but these words may ring hollow.

It can help to understand that there are both emotional and psychological components to grief. Emotional aspects can be so personal, they may be challenging to address. Psychological components, however, can be more logical, and therefore better understood.

The Three Significant Psychological Factors of Grief

1. Loss

When someone passes on, we immediately focus on who we lost. Our initial focus is on the name of the person and their position in our life; brother, sister or mother or father. Eventually, that sense of loss expands to the role that person played in our life. Maybe they were a confidante, someone we watched sports with or someone who took us to dinner once a month. These are losses it can help to identify to psychologically move forward.

2. Change

A death of a loved one means change stemming from the loss. In the above examples, for instance, we may have to find a new person to serve as a confidante, to share our passion for sports or to go to dinner with. These changes can be significant or relatively minor but there will be change. Learning to handle that change is a big psychological step.

3. Control

One of the most challenging psychological aspects in dealing with grief is the loss of control that can come with it. When someone close to us dies we may question any sense of control we may have thought we had and begin to feel extremely vulnerable. We may even think we are the only person who feels this way.

Losing someone we love is extremely difficult. It affects us emotionally, psychological and if we are not careful, even physically. This is all part of why funerals, final services, and memorials are so important. They show us other people care and share in these feelings. They demonstrate a layer of support we may not have realized we have. They better help us accept a loss, prepare for the changes ahead, and help us re-establish control. Oh, these final services have definitely changed through the years. We’ve witnessed a shift to the acceptance of cremations and seen the growth in the popularity of “Celebrations of Life”. It still remains critical, however, to recognize a death to help us move forward.

Be sure to let us know how we can help. Whether preplanning or in an immediate need, we would be honored to serve you.

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