What Does Denial Look Like After a Loss?

Death always comes as a shock, whether sudden and unexpected or following a long illness. For more than 80 years, our Krause Funeral Home team has worked with families throughout the Milwaukee area, and we know how devastating it is to lose a loved one. Many have told us it’s as if their world has been turned upside down. Others describe themselves as feeling numb and find it difficult to even get through the day.

These feelings can last for days, months, and sometimes years after the funeral service. One of the ways some people react to the pain is to avoid thinking about it altogether. The temptation to do this can be even stronger when you feel pressure to “just move on.”

On one level, denial can be a survival mechanism to soften the blow of an overwhelming situation. By avoiding your feelings in the short-term, you are able to plow through difficult decisions about final arrangements, if your loved one didn’t plan ahead. It can give you the ability to host guests from out of town, and interact with them at a visitation or reception, sharing memories and exchanging niceties.

The danger occurs when a person uses denial and avoidance as a long-term solution to dealing with their grief. Experts agree that staying in a state of denial will prevent you from healing and moving ahead with life in a healthy way. Examples of this include:

  • Becoming so busy with other things that you don’t have time to process your grief
  • Pretending your loved one is simply away on a trip and will be coming back
  • Refusing to talk about your loved one who has died or even saying their name
  • Minimizing your relationship to the person who has died and the pain you’re feeling
  • Speaking to your loved one who has died in the present tense
  • Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or food

It’s said that denial is only anxiety management, and while denial is a normal part of grieving a loss, it can leave a person stuck. After a time, it’s important to face that your loved one is gone and take an honest look at how you feel.

If you’ve been avoiding certain people, places, or situations, begin to reintroduce them into your life. This might mean visiting the gravesite, looking at old photos, or sorting through your loved one’s personal belongings. Through it all, allow others to see your tears and offer comfort. Feeling sad when you lose someone close to you is normal and natural and so is expressing these emotions.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling and/or find a support group to help you come to terms with your loss. With years of experience caring for grieving families in Brookfield, New Berlin, and Milwaukee, we know the best specialists, resources, and support groups in the area. Our professional staff has also compiled a comprehensive list of current grief support groups for Southeastern Wisconsin.

Whether you yourself have experienced a loss, or someone close to you is grieving, reach out to us today, so we can help you find the support you need.

One thought on “What Does Denial Look Like After a Loss?

  1. My Wife lost her father due to covid 19, after the burial she lost conscious and when ahe woke up the last thing she remembers is that her father is still in the hospital. More than a month had passed and she still believe he would get better. What should I do

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