How painful is death

Sadness

Grief reactions

Most people fear grief. And rightly so: if a person has lost someone, they are in a state of emergency for a while. The mourner withdraws into himself, moves less and hardly reacts to positive stimuli, such as a smile or a joke.

Many people cry; some are so desperate that they feel like they cannot go on living. Because the body releases a large amount of stress hormones after the loss of a loved one, the immune system of the bereaved is also weakened. This in turn means that the death rate is slightly higher among those who grieve.

Course of mourning

People grieve differently. Some understand immediately that the loved one is dead, others take weeks. How intense the grief is and how long it lasts also varies greatly. For some people the grief is mild, others experience it as very painful and protracted.

It also makes a difference whether someone died unexpectedly or very young. Losing a child or a young partner tends to lead to longer and more painful grief than losing a parent who has grown old.

Dealing with mourners

Most people make a decision to stand by a loved one or friend when they are in grief. However, this is often more difficult than expected. Studies have shown that deep sadness rubs off within a few minutes. As a result, most people quickly turn away from sad people or wish the grief to pass quickly.

At the same time, many are unsure how to deal with those who mourn. Should you leave a grieving friend or colleague alone or distract them from their grief? Grief counselors recommend asking the bereaved what would be good for them - and then sticking to it. To find out how the bereaved are doing, the question: "How was your day?" or "How was your week?"

Grief pain

Many people experience the pain of grief as an overwhelming and often irrational feeling to which they are defenseless. They cry, rage and refuse to admit what they actually know. Psychologists suspect that people are thrown back to their earliest phase of life when they grieve.

Even infants cry and scream when they feel abandoned. However, the so-called excessive binding reaction has not been scientifically proven. How intense the grief pain is and how long it lasts also varies from person to person.

According to long-term psychological studies, about 40 percent of the bereaved are mildly grieved. It doesn't matter whether the relationship with the deceased was good or bad. Rather, people with mild grief reactions are characterized by the fact that they are generally good at dealing with changes and stress.

They also have a larger behavioral repertoire. This includes being able to suppress feelings and keep them to themselves when the situation calls for it. They are also apparently more able to focus on the positive. A sentence like "I never thought that I could be so strong" is typical for so-called resilient mourners.

Dangerous grief myths

Grief myths are supposed truths about grief. For example, they say that people have to work through the loss they have suffered in phases or that they absolutely have to express their pain. The request to let the grief out and not to suppress it is also known.

The mourning myths probably arose because for a long time there were hardly any representative studies on mourning. Even the very first theory of grief by Sigmund Freud was never scientifically tested by his successors. Empirical grief research fights against grief myths because they unsettle grieving people and put them under pressure and can hinder the natural process of mourning.