Coping with the First Weeks of Grief


Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D.
Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D.

For many years, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., has been a practicing psychotherapist in Rockville, Maryland. Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., has treated numerous individuals struggling with the effects of grief and loss.

When a loved one dies, the bereaved person’s mind often goes into a state of shock and detachment, which serves to separate him or her from the reality of the loss. To many people, this feels like numbness or living in a fog. Sometimes, they feel that they are moving through the world on autopilot, making final arrangements without fully experiencing what is going on.

Many people find this period of numbness extremely frustrating, as it causes them to struggle with daily tasks, to focus on work or school requirements. It is important to remember, however, that shock functions as an adaptive mechanism that allows the reality of the situation to set in slowly. Many people find that the pain of loss descends gradually as the numbness dissipates so that the full experience of grief does not arrive all at once but in manageable stages.

Experts recommend that a grieving person make his or her way through numbness and detachment slowly and with plenty of self-compassion. For some it may be necessary to take some time away from the world to rest, though most people find it more soothing to actively participate in funeral arrangements and proceedings or partake with post funeral bereavement rituals in a group to the best of their ability, so that when the fog lifts, they feel others understood and supported them, that they did not forget their loved one and had a chance to share their grief with caring family and friends.