Bereavement is what happens to you; grief is what you feel; mourning is what you do.
Dr Richard Wilson
The Whirlpool of Grief model was created by Dr Richard Wilson, who worked with parents who had lost a child.
The idea behind the Whirlpool of Grief is that we are pottering along the River of Life, when we are swept down the Waterfall of Bereavement. It feels like we have been swept off a cliff, and we are hurtling down, out of control, numb, in shock and perhaps in denial.
We land in a whirlpool of grief, where we feel lost, emotionally disorganised and falling apart, and as we get swept round, we might go through the same things again and again. We might get battered on the rocks, where we feel the physical symptoms of grief. We might get washed into shallow water where we can rest, or onto the banks, where we experience the fog of widow brain, and we might feel that we are stuck in grief.
As we move into back into the River of Life as it flows out of the whirlpool, we mourn, and we move forward (but not move on) into our new normal.
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.