Losing a loved one may be one of the most difficult experiences in life, if not the most difficult. Whether the loved one is a family member, a close friend or a pet, the one who is left behind may experience overwhelming pain that may affect every aspect of their life. The grieving person may feel that sadness and grief engulf them. At times, there may be other feelings present, such as numbness (e.g. “I don’t feel anything”), disbelief, anger, guilt and a sense of abandonment.

The feelings may also evolve over time, for example, from sadness to anger, to guilt and then back to sadness. The grieving person may experience a significant decrease in his/her sense of well being. In addition, the grieving person may feel that it is very difficult for them to explain to another person how intense and how all- encompassing their feelings are. While many people describe similar feelings through the grieving period, the way people grieve is unique to each person.

The process of grieving is shaped by a combination of many factors, such as personality, the relationship between the deceased and the grieving person, the circumstances of the person’s death, and more. It is sometimes helpful to think of the grieving process as a journey. During this journey, the terrain and landscape may change a few times, and it may sometimes seem to the person who is taking the journey, that they are going back instead of forward. This is very common but is usually only temporary, especially if steps are taken to make the journey successful.

These steps include finding support, expressing one’s feelings in a safe and accepting environment and working toward closure if there are any unresolved issues between the one who has passed away and the one who is left behind. The destination at the end of the journey is a place of acceptance and peace, rather than of forgetting the one who was lost. That is, the one who grieves may never forget the one he/she has lost, nor should they. However, they will be able to go on with their own lives having accepted and integrated the loss, while regaining a sense of personal well being.

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Further Readings

  • Rando, T. A. (1988). How to go on living when someone you love dies. New York: Bantam books.
  • Walker, K. (1999). The heart that is loved never forgets. Rochester.

For more information, contact Dr Regev at her Vancouver office Tel: 604-671-7356 Email: