Psychological Changes after the Death of a loved one

Psychological Changes after the Death of a loved one

Shakespeare mentioned the seven stages of life in one of his poems. The seven stages include infant, schoolchild, teenage, young man, middle age, old age, and death. All of us experience these stages in our course of life and all of these stages have their own significance with respect to an individual’s life. Likewise, death is also an important stage of our lives. But even if it is an important stage, it still gives us immense pain after the loss of our loved one. The loss is very significant that it affects our day-to-day life events too. But how actually it affects us? What psychological changes take place after the loss of our loved one?

Before knowing the psychological effects of loss of a loved, what is death? Death is seen as the total cessation of all the life processes which are carried out in living organisms (Pallis, 2023).

Psychological changes:

As per population-based studies conducted in the US suggests traumatic experiences reported after the death of a loved one. These traumatic experiences have a negative impact on mental health which is a serious concern for public health. It is seen that when loss of close relationships occurs due to unexpected death makes the life event very much stressful for all the ages from children to adults. This stressful event then leads to the development of psychological disorders. This happens because close relationships have a notable range of impact on us, like on our physical, cognitive, and emotional processes (Keyes et al., 2014).

The death of a loved or close one is seen to be associated with development of the symptoms of depression, anxiety, substance use and several other psychiatric disorders. This event also results in an enhancement in the risk of reactions of prolonged grief (Keyes et al., 2014).

According to studies, death also has different effects on different developmental periods. Current studies consider a short set of psychiatric outcomes because of a death of loved one. Researchers carried out a study to determine the relationship between a loved one’s sudden demise and psychiatric effects such anxiety, mood disorders, and substance abuse.

In order to comprehend the relationship between a loved one’s sudden demise and psychiatric effects like anxiety, mood disorders, and substance disorders, researchers conducted a study. The research used a population-based sample. The results showed that there is an increased risk of incidence of major depressive episodes, panic disorder and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can be observed at every point in the life of an individual (Keyes et al., 2014).

Another study focused on how bereavement had an impact, with the help of literature reviews from psychology, neuroscience, immunology, and psychophysiology, etc. This study showed that people can also experience extended mourning disorder after losing a loved one. According to recent research using techniques like neuroimaging. The person who experiences the most intense psychological grieving reactions is the one who is most affected by the loss of a loved one (O’Connor, 2019).

How can one cope with it?

The loss of a loved one in any way is stressful. But life must move on and focus on the upcoming events of life. Here are some of the coping strategies one can use:

  1. Communicate about the death of your loved one with friends, family, or colleagues. It will help understand the situation and remind you of the loved one you lost. Avoiding emotions can lead to isolation and will interrupt the healing process.
  2. Accept the feelings you are feeling. Many emotions would burst out in this situation like sadness, anger, exhaustion, etc. It’s crucial to recognise that feeling these emotions and expressing them are both normal. If you feel stuck with these emotions, it’s a good idea to seek assistance from a qualified psychologist or mental health expert who can help you understand and cope with the emotions and return to your normal life.
  3. Taking care of yourself and the others who are with you in the situation. Focusing on your own health is equally important during this time. Eating healthy foods, exercising, and having appropriate sleep can help your health both physically and mentally.
  4. Reach out to others and help them as well in dealing with the loss. Spending time with the loved ones of the deceased person can help in coping with the situation. Sharing stories, listening to songs, and watching movies that the lost loved one liked can make a difference and make you feel better.
  5. Remember the lost loved one and celebrate the lives of the loved one. Anniversaries of losing a loved one can be difficult, but this is time for their remembrance and honoring them. It may happen that you help people live better by giving donations, giving the name of the lost loved one to the upcoming child, planting a tree in the name of the lost loved one as their memory (“Grief: Coping With the Loss of Your Loved One,” 2020).

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