Grief process

About Grief

The grief process after bereavement is not linear but a process which moves back and forth.



[Often perceived phenomena]

The various reactions that occur during the grief process are unique for each individuals, but there are some common phenomena as noted below:


1.Grief wave

In the grief process, instead of feeling sad all the time, emotional waves with large amplitudes are repeated, with emotions spurting out at one moment and calming down at other moments.

*At first glance, they may look fine when the waves are settled. But sorrow usually lasts much longer than one thinks.


2.Anniversary reaction

On the anniversary (or the monthly anniversary) of an important event, on the birthday of the deceased, or on a day with memories such as Christmas, the bereaved often feel sad and painful, even after many years have passed.

*It might be a good idea to prepare yourself in advance, for example spending time with someone you trust.


3.Loss of role

Losing an important family member means that you lose the role you held in that relationship. For example, it could be the role of wife (or husband), the role of a parent, etc. Such changes in environment can be significant, and some people may feel like they lost their meaning and value in life.

*It takes time to get used to a new environment. Find your role in the new environment gradually, at your own pace, without comparing that pace to others.


[Grief process]

The grief process can be described occurring in phases.

The chart below lists the four phases identified by Parkes (1972). The phases do not always proceed in order, but may go back and forth, or two phases may overlap.


The four phases of grief: grieving the loss of a loved one                

1.Shock and Numbness:

They are shocked and do not believe the facts.

2.Yearning and Searching:

They search for the deceased. They feel that the deceased might yet be living.

3.The disorganization and despair phase

They react to the inability to bring back the past. They are distracted and bewildered in the face of new demands.

4.The reorganization phase

They start to develop a new mode of living without the deceased.