Loss and mourning

You may have lost someone close to you during the distressing event or been injured yourself. In such cases you will experience loss and mourning. There is no one ‘proper way’ of mourning, or a step-by-step plan according to which you process loss. Everybody has their own ways of coming to terms with it. One person cries a lot and withdraws within him/herself while another starts to work out intensively, or work hard to feel better. There are as many ways of mourning as there are people. Even within the same family, its members may mourn in very different ways. Children mourn, too, even if they often express themselves differently from adults. Children can be very sad one moment and the next play cheerfully with their friends again. That is all part of the stage of development they are in and doesn’t make their feelings any less deep or less sincere. If you can accept the differences in mourning, it is easier to support each other. People can help and comfort each other in many different ways.

Grieving and coping with loss

There are peaks and troughs in how people come to terms with loss. One moment, the loss may feel relatively bearable while the next moment you are suddenly overwhelmed again by sorrow, anxiety or loneliness. You may feel you’re back at square one again. Perhaps this disheartens you, but it is important that you do not give up hope. In the end, it is a process where you take small steps ‘forward’, even if it often also means taking almost as many steps back. It is impossible to say how long it will take. One person needs a couple of months, while for the next person you need to think in terms of years. And however long it takes, it is not a linear process but more like a wave-like motion, with peaks and troughs.

Help with mourning and loss

You don’t necessarily need therapy when you are mourning. Reading about experiences with grieving and mourning may help you find your own ways and forms of mourning; it may give you something to go on. All the same, you may still have questions. For instance: how do I know if I’m doing things the ‘right’ way? Can I ever carry on with my life in this way? Where can I find the right sort of support that will get me through all this? Keep talking about these things with the people around you. Mourning is never easy but the majority of people pull through on their own, and with the support of the people around them. Even so, people sometimes need some extra help. If you find the mourning process very hard and feel that you can’t cope on your own, mourning counselling or therapy may be of help to you. Talk to your GP when, apart from the sadness and the loss, you keep struggling with bad feelings of guilt, or have to think a lot about death and when little things don’t give you any pleasure anymore. Or, try if talking with a spiritual counsellor may help. Look under ‘Help and Counselling’ on this website to find out where – and how – best to find professional help. Here are some relevant links if you’d like to read more about mourning and loss.

Relevant links

  • Landelijk Steunpunt Rouw (National Support Centre Mourning Counselling; Dutch only)

  • Book: ‘Je mag me altijd bellen’ (‘You can always phone me’) by Karin Kuiper. A book of short stories that many people who have lost their partner at a young age recognise a lot in.