All Souls’ Day: understand the stages of grief and how to deal with losses

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O mourning it is an emotional process resulting from a void left by the absence of a loved one.

This Wednesday (2), the holiday of the All Souls’ Day marks the memory of those who are no longer with us. For many, it is a time of recollection, prayers and visits to the graves of relatives and friends.

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specialists in mental health explain that each individual experiences grief in their own way. Thus, there are no defined deadlines or the right moment to indicate the end of the state of anguish. However, understanding some common characteristics of the experience can make the process less traumatic.

stages of grief

Although the experience of a loss is quite particular, knowing the different stages of grief can help you deal with the situation better.

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“Grief can affect people in different ways. And it’s important to respect each one’s time and how each phase is different for each person. There is a process of brain resilience that ends up bringing, after a certain time, some comfort”, explains neurosurgeon and neuroscientist Fernando Gomes, professor at the Hospital das Clínicas de São Paulo.

Mental health experts break it down into five phases:

  1. Initial phase of denial: isolation and the denial of death;
  2. Rage phase: fight death;
  3. Bargaining stage: attempt at exchanges and thoughts such as “it is the law of life”;
  4. Depression stage: deep sadness;
  5. Acceptance phase: understanding of the entire process.

“It is necessary to go through the phases and understand that it is no use wanting to skip or run over these stages, because it is part of the process of psychic maturation and that is what will help to reach the end of the process”, says Gomes.

Psychoanalyst Sylvia Pupo, from the Brazilian Society of Psychoanalysis of São Paulo (SBPSP), states that the recognition of a loss is a fundamental step towards its acceptance.

“The grieving process is a natural and necessary stage, which, when finished, will promote a greater level of integration and personality maturation. Those who can count on psychotherapeutic follow-up can benefit a lot from this, especially in these moments”, she says.

The specialist highlights the importance of distinguishing the normal mourning of that considered prolonged when there is a transformation of sadness into depression.

“Sadness is a natural state, among others, that follow a loss. In a society where sadness cannot be tolerated and must be medicalized, there is a demand that we always be happy and successful. The space for fragility and for subjectivity itself is getting smaller and smaller. The fast pace also makes us run over emotions and the time needed for each one to finish their processes”, he points out.

Read more about prolonged grief, considered a mental disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Deep sadness

A deep sadness, loss of general interest and a feeling that nothing else makes sense. These are some of the feelings of those who begin to experience grief. The pain can be so severe that symptoms manifest physically, including body aches, chest tightness, weakness, and sleep disturbances.

At first, it is natural that the desire to isolate oneself from the world arises, as if it were an attempt to protect oneself. Reliving memories and surrounding oneself with the deceased’s personal effects are also common behaviors.

O bereavement is not considered a disease, but a natural process in the face of a situation of loss, as explained by psychiatrist Jéssica Martani. There is no set time frame for ending a grieving process. In a particular way, each individual deals with pain in his own way and thus also finds new meanings for life.

“Sometimes, it can happen that the person is unable to grieve, harming their life and, when this occurs, the pathological grieving process can begin. In medicine, we call it persistent complex grief disorder. In this case, the diagnosis is made only when severe levels of grief response persist for at least 12 months after death, interfering with the individual’s ability to function.

In the first few months after the loss, the following situations can often happen:

  • Persistent longing for the deceased with the presence of crying spells;
  • Worry about the deceased or thoughts about the way the person died
  • Difficulty in believing that the individual has died;
  • Anger over loss;
  • Feeling of isolation;
  • Feeling that a part of yourself has died or has been lost;
  • Difficulty feeling pleasure and planning for the future;
  • Believing that life has no meaning or purpose;
  • Desire to die due to the desire to be with the deceased.

Jessica says that all these symptoms are warning signs and that, if they are persistent, they may indicate the need for specialized follow-up. “If the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with functionality, I advise the beginning of medical intervention in psychiatry”, she says.

As mourning takes place, people come to understand what life can be like without the presence of the loved one. In this process, there is a sedimentation of the loss and individuals find psychological and symbolic ways to keep alive the memory of those who are gone.

“Grief work enables the survivor to redefine their relationship with the dead person and form new lasting bonds,” says the specialist.

Source: CNN Brasil

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