Studies have shown that it takes up to two years to move through all the work of grief following a single bereavement. So, what happens when those two years are interrupted by another death, or perhaps more? It's not so much that the load of grief increases, but rather that the work of grief gets postponed. Our hearts and minds can only deal with so much grief at one time. There is a natural "off" switch that kicks in when we are faced with multiple losses, and we may feel as if we are numb rather than overwhelmed.
I have found that multiple-bereavement grief is very complex, but that it follows a path that is similar for different grievers. The book I am working on is about this unique path of grief. I will explore some of my findings in this blog at a later date. What I want to share right now is that the awareness of the importance of saying intentional goodbyes is one of the gifts that arises from experiencing multiple bereavements. When you have lost many friends or family members to death, death becomes a more normal part of living. It is no longer something to fear or avoid, but can be faced and addressed with those who are dying and with other supportive people.