I have done a lot of bereavement work. At Daisy’s Dream working with children who’s parent or sibling has died and also with adult clients who parent has suffered for years with dementia and then subsequently died. This can be akin to a double bereavement, as you grieve for the parent that no longer exists as their personality has been taken by the illness, and then when the parent dies you grieve again. I currently work with the bereaved families as one of St Michael’s Hospice’s counsellors, and will be beginning as a bereavement counsellor at Naomi House, the hospice for children, this June.
There is no time frame for grieving when I loved one has died. I have heard many people talk about 2 years being the time for grieving, described as the first year being the worst as it includes all the first anniversaries, and during the second year you can begin to move on. For one I really don’t think the phrase “move on”, I find it in no way helpful. This implies that you get to a point of being ‘over’ the loss, where in fact it is widely accepted in my field that a bereaved person can continue to mourn throughout their life to varying degrees. My dad died 25 years ago when he was 47 years old. I am now 47 and I have been struck by how young my dad was, and thoughts of how it was for him are with me a lot as we come close to the anniversary of his death. I am mourning him at this time in a different way to any other time in the past.
When someone integral in your life dies you are not morning just the loss of that person, you are also possibly struggling, depending on the role the person played in your life, with the loss of the role you played in their life, mother, wife etc. Possibly the loss of social status, are you still a wife if your husband has died? There can be many complex issues to be seen to when you are bereaved.
Davidson (1988) wrote that:
‘There is no human experience so universal as grief after a bereavement. It is the aching sense of loss, the anger of unjustified hurt, the struggle to adapt to an unwanted newness of circumstances and the absence of relationship.’