A Map of Bereavement

When we are bereaved, we can feel a turmoil of strong feelings - hurt, sadness, anger, fear, shock, numbness, to name a few.

There is a well recognised path:


Accompanying these strong feelings are thoughts and questions. Actually, we have similar questions every day, but at a time of high emotion, the emotionally laden questions and thoughts seem more significant.


The two main families of questions we meet are these:

  • What If's and the
  • If Only's

We meet these questions every day of the year - but they are most insistent at times of strong emotions.

Each of these questions can be laden with emotion and pain, when we ask them:

  • If only I'd been to see her more often
  • What if she'd eaten more (vegetables, fruit, sugar) 
  • If only he hadn't (smoked, driven so fast, been on that road that day) 
  • What if the doctors had spotted it sooner 
  • If only they could have saved him 
  • If only I'd been kinder to him

At a time of high emotion, our judgment may be clouded. Our judgement clouded, we lose our balanced perspective and can resort to blame or guilt, driven by strong feelings.

If we let the What If's and If Only's persist,
They pester us
Unresolved, they fester
Festering, they turn to poison
Which we cast out as blame at someone else
Or hide inside as guilt


If the 'What If's' and 'If Only's' are not resolved, or 'put to bed', they persist...


The poison is then either:

THROWN OUT - as blame - at someone else - or...

BURIED INSIDE - to fester and to stay hidden as buried hurt.