“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.
The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing”
C.S. Lewis, “A Grief Observed”
Bereavement and loss are universal human phenomena and much of our lives consist of negotiating and accepting various types of loss on many levels. The death of a loved one is a ubiquitous human experience; most people at some point in their lives confront the inevitable enduring pain of interpersonal loss. Bereavement clinicians suggest that to truly fathom the impact of loss on the human psyche, ultimately we must examine the meaning of the attachment to the person (Bowlby, 1980; Worden, 2003). Over the past century, a considerable body of literature has been generated to describe the phenomenology of the grieving process and the methods by which people might best cope with loss and bereavement.
It is impossible to lose someone you have loved deeply without experiencing tremendous emotional pain. Losing your partner, spouse, friend, parent family member or child is a devasting experience. The newly bereaved can be unprepared to deal with the sheer force and nature of emotions that follow the loss of a loved one. Society can interrupt this process with platitudes that can reinforce the pain or collude with the bereaved’s defenses. In our present situation many individuals are suffering complicated and painful loss through the ending of their relationships or marriage. Indeed, this too is a death. The work of psychotherapy and counseling is to help individuals process the pain of loss and to assist them to go on living effectively in the world.