Coping with bereavement

Dealing with loss

The loss of someone close is a painful experience. Most people are likely to be bereaved several times in their lives and to face the tasks of coming to terms with the loss. Bereavement brings more than distress and sadness: the loss can induce other painful feelings, such as guilt over things said or done in the past. There may also be anger or resentment directed toward the deceased person or to others. There may also be associated depressive or physical disorders. Not uncommonly people then need to unburden their painful thoughts by talking about them with their family and friends. This is part of the grief process, whereby the individual gradually adjusts to life without the deceased person.


The Shona peoples of Africa have their burial ritual and time of mourning, but their final ceremony is that of settling the spirit, of inviting the spirit back home. The final goal is the continuing community, a community that has worked through the upset caused by the physical departure of one of its members and can acknowledge his or her continuing presence. Jews, like the Shona, also bury the body within a day or so and then the close family "sit shiva". They sit in the living room at home for a week, while friends, realities and neighbours come to visit, bringing food, talking about the departed. Then after a week of talking endlessly laughing, crying and sharing memories, the family slowly gets back to ordinary life.

Society Family
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies