Grief and Loss

How will I live without her/him? How long will I feel like this?   Will I ever get over the loss?  These are some of the questions often asked after the death of a friend or family member.  Dr. Cadow has worked with grieving patients and families for 30 years and has provided expert testimony in legal proceedings involving the loss of a child. 

People experiences death in their own unique way, but some common reactions have been noted.  Elisabeth Kubla-Ross describes five stages of grief:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (On Death and Dying.  New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, Inc., 1969). The stages provide a framework from which survivors can navigate the twists and turns of their emotional upheaval.  Although awareness of these frequently reported stages of grief can be helpful, most people navigate their own unique grief experiences over widely varied time periods. 

Other common reactions to death include: shock, numbness, avoidance, fear, guilt, feelings of longing, problems returning to “normal” life, negative effects on other relationships, and physiological symptoms (e.g., gastrointestinal problems, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, body aches).    The death of a loved one is perceived as a highly stressful event, which can make all of us more vulnerable to depression, illness, or accidents.  Two factors that often shape responses to grief include the relationship to the deceased person and the circumstances of their death.   Whatever the experience, each survivor needs a treatment plan that is specific to the individual and his/her particular situation.

© Barbara Cadow, Ph.D.  2015