Bereavement is often used synonymously with "grief" and "mourning," yet the three terms, while complementary, are distinct terms used at different times during a loss.
"Bereavement" comes from an Old English term meaning “to be deprived of" or "to be torn apart from." It is the feeling that something has been taken away from you, or there is now a hole in your life where once there was something meaningful and loved.
"Grief" is related to the "internal." It's how we feel and process a loss. It's the emotions and feelings and thoughts that walk with us. Grief can be useful if listened to and not ignored. Oftentimes, when grief is overlooked or repressed, it will surface in other aspects of our lives, often seemingly out of nowhere.
"Mourning" is related to the "external," and is how we express our grief outwardly to others. It is public grief, in other words.
When a death occurs, there is a void and a feeling of emptiness that follows, especially when the funeral services are over and a person is left alone with their thoughts and feelings. After a few months, those around you will have returned to normal life well before your own life has stabilized. As you move through your own grief and mourning, it may sometimes feel that healing will never come.
It's at this point that it becomes important to seek out human comfort and warmth for support in this difficult period of our life, either through friends, family, or professionals.
Since each human being is different, and each person sees the world through a different lens, you will have your own way of experiencing your pain. Generally speaking, how you live and interpret the world will determine how you grieve. Conversely, how you grieve will also determine how you live going forward.
There's no timeline for grief. A loss is something that will accompany you for the rest of your life. In time, though, you will learn both to live with the grief, as well as carve out a new identity for yourself after the loss.
One of the best known acronyms for grief is "D.A.B.D.A.," or "Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance," as popularlized by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. This makes it sound like grief is linear, and that we must experience, for example, anger before depression. There may be days of depression followed by moments of acceptance, followed by bursts of anger. This is normal, and is all part of the grieving process.
(It's important to note that Kübler-Ross created the "D.A.B.D.A." model while working with terminally ill patients coming to terms with their own mortality, and not with those who had recently experienced a loss.)
Regardless of how you grieve, the Funeral co-operative of Ottawa has resources available to accompany you through your mourning period.
A tool for support in bereavement offered exclusively by funeral cooperatives
Losing a loved one is most likely among the most difficult trials we will face in life. Those who have experienced this know how important it is to nurture support from others in order to get through the upheavals of a loss.
Staff and volunteers of funeral cooperatives experience daily the roller coaster of emotions that accompany death and grief. For that reason, the funeral cooperatives have prepared a series of four instalments called By Your Sidein order to continue our support for bereaved families.
To access our ever-growing list of resources that can help you in your period of mourning, click here.