ADJUSTMENTS FOLLOWING LOSS
For the bereaved, their whole world has changed as a result of the loss of a spouse, partner, family member, friend or other loved one. According to grief specialist William Worden the bereaved have to find ways of “adjusting to a world without the deceased”. As well as the necessity to accept the reality of the loss and process the pain of grief, there are a number of adjustments following loss of a loved one that need to be addressed:
- how the loss affects day-to-day living;
- how the loss affects the bereaved person’s sense of self;
- how the death of the loved one affects the bereaved person’s beliefs, values and assumptions about their world. It is important to discover and invent new meaning in the face of loss.
ADJUSTMENTS TO THE LOSS OF ROLES
Just as the process of grieving is unique for each person, so is the pathway taken to making adjustments following loss of a loved one. Adjustments mean different things to different people depending on what the relationship was with the person who has died and the various roles this person played.
” In any bereavement, it is seldom clear exactly what is lost. A loss of a husband, for instance, may or may not mean the loss of a sexual partner, companion, accountant, gardener, baby minder, audience, bed warmer, and so on, depending on the particular roles normally performed by this husband.”
C.M. Parkes (1972) Bereavement: Studies of grief in adult life. New York: International University Press p. 7
WHO AM I NOW?
Adjustments following loss of a spouse/partner also include adjusting to one’s sense of self. Sometimes a person’s sense of self is dependent on the person to whom they are attached. Loss of self-esteem can occur.
VALUES AND BELIEFS
Some bereaved feel they have lost direction in life. Their fundamental values and beliefs may be challenged. The bereaved person search for meaning in their loss. With the passing of time new beliefs may be adopted or old ones modified to take into account the fragility of life and the limits there are to what one can control. The bereaved person’s goals in life may change as they adapt to a world without their beloved.
J.W. Worden (2009) Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy. Springer Publishing Company: New York.
Thus, adjustments following loss of a loved one are wide-ranging and there are many challenges to be faced. If you are struggling and need support