Grief Psychology Continued: The Wave-Like Pattern of Grief

This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from Sue Morris’ “The psychology of grief — applying cognitive and behaviour therapy principles“:

The wave-like pattern of grief

The experience of grief is best described as following a wave-like pattern which provides a useful framework in helping the bereaved understand their experience and, in turn, increase their sense of control (Morris, 2008). Most people report that the intensity and frequency of waves lessens over time even though ‘trigger waves’, which are usually accompanied by heightened emotions, can occur at any time, even years later. Triggers can include anything from hearing a song on the radio to seeing someone who resembles the deceased person. Some trigger waves come out of the blue and others are anticipated, such as a significant date. It is important to emphasise that trigger waves are normal and are not a sign that they are getting worse. In normal grief, the intense symptoms subside slowly but usually cause little impairment to functioning by six months following the death (Maciejewski, Zhang, Block, & Prigerson, 2007).

What triggers to your grief can you anticipate?  What triggers still surprise you?

About Rebecca Hensler

Rebecca Hensler founded Grief Beyond Belief in 2011, following the death of her infant son Jude. She runs Grief Beyond Belief from her home and continues to write and speak on the topics of grief without faith and secular grief support.

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