Emotional Intelligence Health Social

Phases of grief for the death of a mother

duelo muerte madre

Death is part of life. It hurts to think about it, but it is something that we have to face especially when it comes to the loss of a close loved one, such as a child, a mother or a father. In the case of the death of our parents (mother or father) a very large affective bond is broken when we part with our main protectors who have accompanied us throughout life. The death of a mother is one of the most painful and traumatic experiences of our lives, especially when there is a strong emotional bond for which we will have to overcome the grief and face the new situation.


Stages of grief for the death of a mother

Grief is an emotional state through which we have to learn to go through in a healthy way, whether it is due to the death of a mother or father, or any other type of loss during our lives, grief is something that sooner or later will be present in our lives. life, and something that is going to mark us in a certain way during the rest of it.

For this reason, overcoming the death of a mother or father is practically impossible, that wound will always remain, but we must learn to walk the path so that the scar does not disturb our lives. Sometimes, the scars serve to remind us how important that person was to us, because things hurt when they are important, and few things are more important than a mother.

For this reason, it is usual that despite the fact that a long time has passed since death, there are periods in which we need to express that pain, that absence, even with tears or sadness. Nothing happens. It is normal to feel sad, as long as it is in a controlled way to remember what was important.

This is perhaps the most important part of coping with the death of a family member: knowing that you can feel sad and that you have a right to be. Once this is known, the phases of mourning are usually represented in five differentiated ones, which we will briefly explain:


  1. Denial stage . At first, it is usually understandable that we try to justify the pain by cushioning the emotional impact by postponing that pain to another moment with a denialist thought. In the early days, the absence is still similar to that of a sporadic absence, such as when you go several days without seeing your parents for vacations or work. This phase should be temporary because it would be a mistake to justify yourself for a long time by inhibiting our coping response. It is a stage in which the fear and surprise of the news keeps us blocked.
  2. Anger stage . This is followed by a stage in which anger and resentment take over us, where we try to seek responsibility for the death and feel frustrated for not having been able to do something else to extend the life of the person or to be able to spend more time with her before perishing. It is the stage in which we realize that death is irreversible and we become somewhat more irascible, resentful and with some accumulated anger. This can also be projected towards other people who surround us and our environment, who should try to understand the situation and empathize as best as possible with the person who has suffered the loss, accompanying them, but without being too overwhelming, simply knowing that you are there.
  3. Negotiation stage . At this point the person, already calmer, tries to answer questions about what happened, using many conditional questions like “ what would have happened if I were with her that day? ”; “ And if we had gone to the doctor before? “, etc. It is a way of trying to deal with or seek answers for what happened, although sometimes in an irrational way and that is not going to undo what happened, but that creates some uncertainty and bewilderment for us.
  4. Depression stage . It is here when sadness begins to be the predominant and deep feeling, because what happened is recognized, so the rest of the emotions give way to that manifest emptiness, to nostalgia and frustration. It is not a real clinical depression, but a normal depression because the loss has already become real in our emotions and cognitions, in a reasoned way. Therefore, we have the right to feel sad especially at this stage. Each person lives it in a different way and it does not have to be worrisome at first, unless that sadness becomes chronic or affects the person’s life in a very disruptive way. In those cases, professional help would be the most convenient way to better channel feelings.
  5. Acceptance stage. The time has come to accept the loss. You have learned to assimilate that your mother or father will not be with you again, but that they have already been part of your life and it is time to take the step to continue. It is at this moment that we are already able to experience joy or pleasure again. Finally, we are calm and confident in moving forward.


We cannot speak of a certain duration for each phase of mourning, it will depend on many factors: personality, cause of death (natural or accident), degree of assimilated guilt (if it was due to an accident in which you were driving, for example) , existing family context and support, degree of emotional bond or attachment (not everyone has the same affective relationship with their families). When the person cannot get out of this duel for a while and their life is paralyzed, the duel can be a problem that requires more professional support to prevent it from becoming too entrenched. In addition, each person can go through these phases more or less quickly or even skip some of them, but this does not make it a better or worse grieving process, simply adapted to each person and need.


How to deal with loss

The best help to overcome a mourning for the death of a mother, although it seems obvious, is simple emotional support with the close presence of the loved one. Let them know that you are there and that person can talk about how they feel about what happened as a way to channel everything, expressing their feelings and emotions. This requires a certain degree of patience on the part of the companion but it will be of great help to the process.


Another way to assimilate death is to face the situation naturalizing what happened and giving way to being able to share situations where that person we loved (and love) so much was present, such as being in the room where we sleep, smelling the clothes they were wearing, kissing a photography or simply talking with other people about anecdotes shared with that person who continues to be so important to our lives. They don’t leave if they stay in our memory.

Iván Pico

Director y creador de Psicopico.com. Psicólogo Colegiado G-5480 entre otras cosas. Diplomado en Ciencias Empresariales y Máster en Orientación Profesional. Máster en Psicología del Trabajo y Organizaciones. Posgrado en Psicología del Deporte entre otras cosas. Visita la sección "Sobre mí" para saber más. ¿Quieres una consulta personalizada? ¡Escríbeme!

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  • La pérdida de una madre es posiblemente uno de los procesos más traumáticos de la vida, este año falleció la mía y en estas fechas un sentimiento de tristeza, dolor, rabia y frustración te invade y que es difícil de sobrellevar

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