Phases of Bereavement

August 24, 2008 10:41:14 AM PDT
There are four primary phases of bereavement.First Phase: Shock and Numbness

Characteristics most intense first two weeks and again on anniversary.

Characteristics
Shortened Attention Span
Concentration Is Difficult
Decision-Making Is Impaired
Stunned, Disbelief
Resistant To Stimuli
Functioning Impeded
Denial
Time Confusion
Failure To Accept Reality

Second Phase: Search And Yearning

Characteristics dominant 2nd week through 4th month and again at anniversary date.

Characteristics
Sensitive To Stimuli
Anger/Guilt, Dreams
Restless/Impatient
Testing What Is Real
Irritability
Weight Gain/Loss
Sleeping Difficulty
Aching Arms
Preoccupation With The Deceased
Resentment
Bitterness
Time Confusion
Headaches
Lack Of Strength
Sighing

Third Phase: Disorientation

Characteristics dominant 5th through 9th month and again at anniversary.

Characteristics
Think "I'm Going Crazy"
Social Withdrawal
Disorganized
Forgetful
Depressed
Guilty
Insomnia
Anorexia
Weight Gain/Loss
Sense Of Failure
Sadness
Exhaustion
Difficulty In Concentration
Feels Ill - 'sick role'

Fourth Phase: Reorganization/Resolution

Characteristics dominant 18th through 24th month.

Characteristics
Sense To Release
Renewed Energy
Able To Make Decisions
Eating and Sleeping Habits Re-Established
Able To Make Decisions
Increased Awareness Of Self-Esteem
Begin Planning For The Future

What Family And Friends Can Do:

  • Buy Groceries
  • Organize Meal Preparation
  • Limit Alcoholic Beverage Consumption
  • Chauffeur Beareaved Family (Do not let them drive)
  • Arrange For Children's Transportation To School
  • Clean Apartment/Linens
  • Assist In Memorial Arrangements
  • Refer To Deceased By Name
  • Note The 11th Of Each Month On Calendar
  • Be Patient With Bereaved

    Source: Bunny Whiteley, Perinatal Bereavement Program, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital

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