Sudden or unexpected death is usually more traumatic and grievous than an expected one, which of course also causes pain even though one is mentally prepared for it.
One can still accept an expected death as compared to an unexpected one. Even though death is predictable (we all know we are all going to die one day) and constant, it still causes a great amount of grief, as it is final and irreversible. Accepting and facing this reality is tough because it suddenly makes one so vulnerable, helpless, hapless, and hopeless.
An immediate reaction is, ‘how will I live without my loved one?’ Because our dependency level is so much more than other species, thus, separation becomes more painful. Different individuals have different ways of reacting to grief; hence each one’s coping mechanism will be different:
- There will be a natural stage of mourning where problems seem overwhelming and unbearable.
- Some people react by going into denial. The nervous energy is utilized into becoming hyperactive; constantly doing things they are physically and mentally exhausted.
- Another reaction is anger: ‘How dare this thing happen to me? Life is so unfair! I hate my spouse for leaving m, I hate everyone!’
- Feeling of abandonment” ‘I am left alone. What will happen to me? Why did this happen to me? No one loves me; I have been deserted just when I needed support.’
- Guilt at things left unsaid, feelings of regret: ‘I wish I had been nicer or done more or had a good time with her.’ This can even progress to feeling guilt at being alive whilst the other is dead, for enjoying luxuries, which were earlier unattainable. This guilt could lead to punishment, where everyone is deprived of pleasure, which also results in justification and confusion.
- Panic and fear: ‘How will I face reality?’
Coping and Adjustments:
- Start turning negative emotions into positive ones.
- Tell yourself: ‘where ever my loved ones are, I hope she/he is happy. I miss him/her but I am grateful for the time we spent together. I cherish these moments and I am grateful for them.’
- Do things that would have made her/him happy. Try to enjoy luxuries which were earlier not there for her/him.
- Don’t go to extremes that would cause negative emotions.
- Expressing one’s self is very important. Talk and take out all negative emotions.
- Remember shared aspirations, and make them come true.
- If you need privacy, make sure you get it!
- Find out how the death occurred, and if you think it is going to help. But don’t play a blame game.
- Have a talking session with the loved one. Keep a photo of her/him and say all the things you wanted to say. Ask for forgiveness; talk it out of your system. But also talk of good moments shared and relive them.
- There is an ancient saying: “All our moments in this world are accounted for. Each moment is there for a purpose, and when that purpose is over, we all have to move on.”