How can the death of a loved one affect me?

The death of someone close to you can be a redefining moment in life. People often define themselves in terms of their relationships: A woman may think of herself as a daughter, wife, mother, sister, or part of a close friendship. A man might define himself as a brother, husband, father, or friend. When someone close dies, the very definition of self changes. How can you be a husband without a wife? A daughter without parents? A friend if your closest friend is gone?

The passing of someone close to you begins a process that, while painful, is normal and expected. It's an experience through which you gradually come to terms with the loss of your loved one and begin to regroup and see yourself in a new way. It's common to feel overwhelmed at first by the depth and intensity of your loss. Immediately after a death, you may be plunged into funeral preparations and logistics before you even have time to register the loss and what it means to you. Next, you may need to take up the demands of daily life all too quickly, or you may find yourself unable to resume your responsibilities.

Grief, while nearly universal, expresses itself in many different ways. Some people are more vulnerable to the effects of grief than others. Experiencing a traumatic loss, such as the death of a spouse, raises the risks for physical or mental illness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.