How do you mourn?

Within a few years journalist Catelijne Elzes lost her sister and her father. Both were a great loss, but each was experienced in a very different way. So how does mourning work, Catelijne wonders?

Solidified mourning
“There are no set rules for mourning,” says loss expert Riet Fiddelaers-Jasper, “even if some experiences are instantly recognizable for many mourners. What’s more, losing someone young is very different from losing someone who is elderly, like a parent. Usually that feels more ‘natural’ and it has less impact on your life, unless you still had a lot of issues to work out. When someone young and still fully engaged in life dies, there are often many other people around who are also wrestling with that death.

You get attention and support from each other.” When someone older passes away, he continues, you might find less support from the people in your environment. “You have to do more yourself,” he says. “It’s also possible that you’re avoiding your sadness a little bit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, either. When a loss is enormous, a little denial now and then is the only way to deal with it. Some people initially spend a lot of energy just getting on with life after a loved one dies, and will not really work through their feelings until years afterward. That’s okay, as long as you’re aware there is still some unresolved stuff that will need to be dealt with. If you don’t work on it, even after a lot of time has passed, your mourning solidifies, as it were.”

Text Catelijne Elzes  Photography Getty Images Stocksy/Luke Gram