A Scientific Explanation for Mourning

If you’ve recently lost someone close to you, it’s easy to feel alone. In reality, you’re far from it: 151,600 people worldwide enter into the realm of death each day, and it can be a comfort to know that others are grieving alongside you. Still, your loss is individual and unique, much like the person you’re mourning.

With each unique loss, there is bound to be a unique grieving process. It may initially sound cold to think about grief scientifically, but in reality, doing so will allow you to understand, process, and embrace your emotions better.

Read on to learn more about mourning as a scientific phenomenon and the ways it will affect you.

Mourning and the Brain

As you probably know, there are a few different parts of the brain that are associated with different functions. Several regions are key to processing emotion alone. From the prefrontal cortex to the amygdala to the limbic system as a whole, your brain is designed to make you feel emotion.

Grief is so profound an emotion that it causes all parts of your brain to take a hit at the same time. Your memory will be impaired as well as your emotions. You’ll begin to forget to take care of yourself, which is a huge reason that grief is associated with illness and weight loss.

All of the new chemicals and hormones flooding to your brain are going to change you, just as the person you’re grieving shaped you. Know that this is normal and natural. Honor your loved one not only by sending flowers but by embracing these changes.

Five Stages?

You’ve probably heard of the five stages of grief before. They tell you that denial, bargaining, anger, sadness, and acceptance are just the norm when it comes to mourning a loss. This isn’t true, though, since, in reality, everyone’s mourning takes its own unique shape.

There are actually no science-based studies to back up the myth of these five stages, and what’s more, there never have been! You might feel alone if you’re going through grief in a different way than these stages, but there’s no reason to. Mourning in your own way couldn’t be more normal.

This is because everyone responds to brain chemicals a bit differently. Grief can’t fall under a narrative structure because each person will have different alterations to their brain chemistry than others.

Beyond Science

Understanding mourning as a scientific process can help you to understand what’s going on in your brain and body. This will allow you to practice better self-care, remind yourself to eat, hydrate, and rest, talk to others, and do all you can to honor and cherish your loved one’s memory.

Still, grief is human, based on emotions like love and sadness. Sometimes understanding science alone just doesn’t cut it in situations like these. Now that you understand grief conceptually, check out our page to learn more about the staff that can help you to honor your loved one through a funeral or a memorial service.

Remember: you’re not alone.