Other researchers found that outsiders may be unaware of the full magnitude of the loss, with changes in financial security, emotional support, practical help, and so forth for the survivor.
Death can elicit powerful feelings that might overwhelm the surrounding survivors with tumultuous and vulnerable feelings, and often not knowing what to do, those genuinely trying to help might create more harm than good.
But when a partner has died suddenly and unexpectedly, talking about the loss and processing the feelings can be beneficial in coming to terms with the event.
When an intimate partner dies, it’s quite possible to set off a crisis of the entire support system, and friends and family may have difficulty providing support to a partner because they are grieving themselves.
And while many might feel that depression/sadness would be next on the list, yearning was the next most frequent response reported throughout the study.
It’s important to note that this study raised controversy when it was first published because all of the grief indicators were in decline by six months after the loss, and the authors implied that further evaluation and potential referral for treatment may be necessary after that time.
Yet for those struggling with the loss of a loved one, the idea that grief recovery follows a standard timeline of set stages can seem ridiculous, if not infuriating.
Certainly those who have had to heal from a painful loss are well aware that the process doesn’t fit in to neat little boxes. This is real, and I’m ready for whatever I have to go through. On the surface, these 5 Stages of Grief seem sensible.
Contrary to popular belief, this was a normal response to the loss of a loved one, not inappropriate attachment or dependence.
This was also a sign of good adjustment when participants were able to focus on the positive aspects of memories of their loved one.
Stroebe and colleagues (1996; 1997, from Pennebaker 2001) found those that were asked to disclose their grief through writing didn’t differ in the physical or mental health after a one year follow-up.
In another study, family members were rated by those grieving as less helpful than friends (Marwit and Carusa 1998).
If you’re unsure how to approach the situation, it might be best to take a cue from your partner in how open and willing they are to talk about the loss.