Symptoms of stages

• Initial sense of unreality or numbness.

• Refusal to believe that the loss has occurred, with hallucinations of a loved one or the feeling that they are present. This can last for up to three months.

• Series of complex emotions such as guilt (for example, for not spending more time with the lost person) and anger (for example, with God for taking the person or with the doctors for not doing enough to save the deceased's life), leading to despair and depression, possibly associated with bowel upsets, mental disorders, and even a susceptibility to suicide.

• State of depression with a tendency to increase the use of drugs or alcohol, sleeping problems, general feelings of a lack of well-being, agitation, and tearfulness. Eventually, life becomes bearable, and even enjoyable, but the whole process may take up to two years or more. There is some evidence that the death of a partner may increase the chance of death in the bereaved.

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