Psychiatrist Colin Murray Parkes and psychologist John Bowlby came up with the four phases of grief model in the 1970s. This is a linear model of grief, like the four tasks of grief and the six R processes of mourning. The real experience of grief generally isn't linear though, and people as they grieve can cycle through different phases, or ping between them like a pinball machine.
Shock and numbness
After someone dies, whether it's sudden or expected, there is a period of numbness that perhaps helps us to survive the first few days, weeks or months. It's hard to accept the reality of the loss.
Yearning and searching
In the second phase, we long for our person to return. Our life is full of sadness, anger, anxiety and confusion. We can seem preoccupied.
Disorganisation and despair
Accepting our loss can leave us without energy, despairing and feeling hopeless, and can make us withdraw. Life feels like it will never get any better.
Reorganisation and recovery
In the recovery phase, intense sadness starts to withdraw and we may be able to remember the person we lost with more positive feelings. Energy begins to return.
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.