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Is it normal for someone who has lost their beloved to pretend that they still exist and not accept that they are gone?

24 Answers
Last Updated: 06/08/2021 at 6:26am
1 Tip to Feel Better
Moderated by

Paola Giordani, Psychoanalyst

Licensed Psychoanalyst

I have helped and am helping people cope with loss, divorce, anguish and parenting. Depression is also a major issue that comes up.

Top Rated Answers
- Expert in Grief
March 12th, 2015 8:25pm
This happens a lot with people who are grieving. While acceptance of a loss is vital for closure, everything comes at its own time. If it gives you some comfort to pretend they are still there, what is the harm in doing that? I had a dog who died 5 years ago. Sometimes I tell her picture that she was a "good dog." Why? I don't know, but it makes me feel better, so i do it.
- Expert in Grief
April 9th, 2015 11:36pm
They aren't gone. They're always with you in spirit. They watch you grow, they watch you struggle, they see your failures and your successes. They'll always be by your side.
January 14th, 2015 3:32pm
There is a grieving process, but there isn't one "normal" accepted route through that process, as it is different for everyone. If the death is recent, shock can make people behave in ways that seem strange to those who are outside looking in. As for pretending the deceased still exist, it's not uncommon to write letters and even hold one-sided conversations with those who are lost, especially if their death was unexpected or sudden. For those who are elderly, things are different again, and they may always keep "that" chair, as if their other half has just popped out to the loo. Grief counselling can help with all of this. If a person has become adamant that their lost loved one is still around physically: for instance insisting that they are just in the kitchen, or have gone to the shop, it may well be that they need some help in accepting their loss. As always, this should be broached carefully and in a calm manner. On the whole, the most important thing is that a person has space and understanding to grieve in a way that is appropriate for them, and has the freedom to feel all of the emotions involved in their loved one's passing. In the UK, you may find helpful.
February 22nd, 2016 5:50pm
Yes! Denial is a normal stage of healthy grief/mourning. The person is still alive in your soul, so it can definitely feel as though he or she is still with you.
September 7th, 2015 3:31pm
There is no pain bigger than Losing Someone you love! And the toughest thing to do is To FORGET someone Who gave you so much to REMEMBER! But no matter what its not normal to pretend that the person who is no more exists.. as some point we have to let go.. As long as we will hold on to it.. the longer the suffering will continue . Keep the person in your Heart and always remember Him/Her by their good memories , at the same time move on with you life . as the person who left you would have wanted you to be Happy and successfull :)
November 15th, 2015 4:09am
As the comedian Patsy Clairmont once pointed out, normal is just a setting on your dryer.
March 18th, 2015 2:59am
Yes, acceptance is a part of the grieving process and everyone spends their own amount of time grieving over a loss. If you are not to this point yet, that's okay! Take your time and remember that you are not alone.
September 8th, 2015 3:59am
It is normal in the first stages after death when shock can be present or difficulty accepting a beloved pet is gone. Pretending is a tool to overcome becoming overwhelmed. It's properties can actually SAVE a person who can't deal with the loss. However, it is also unhealthy to be using imagery when enough time has passed to start the grieving and moving on process. In order to continue a healthy lifestyle; grieving, facing guilt, accepting and other processes need to be faced. Trust the Cat Lady on this one. I have lost wonderful fur babies and still have a cry sometimes after 10 years. I know that the 6 I have aren't going to be the 6 Musketeers soon because of age. This isn't a textbook answer. It comes from the heart and from experience. Best wishes to all who have loved and lost a pet!
February 10th, 2016 3:26am
December 29th, 2015 6:51am
Speaking from experience, I believe so. My mother has been gone for 7 years and I still talk to her and swear I see her places. I always think this is a dream and I'll wake up on her lap or something.
February 21st, 2016 6:51pm
Everyone deals with grief differently. It's important to understand that grief is not a 'one size fits all' when it manifests following the loss of a loved one. It can appear by seemingly not appearing (when one seems cold and withdrawn instead of openly sorrowful) or by appearing in extremes. One must figure out whether they are 'pretending' the person still exists because they actually believe it to be so (a delusion that may require professional help) or whether it simply serves as a way to comfort them (that is, they are aware the person is gone but prefer to pretend they are not). Everyone will comfort themselves differently, but if it persists or begins manifesting as denial, professional help may be required. So to answer the question, nothing specific about grief is abnormal, really, so the answer is yes, that it is normal for some to react that way. But that does not mean professional help shouldn't be sought or even required.
July 24th, 2018 12:39am
From my experience, this isn't normal. Everyone grieves and mourns differently, but they do have to accept that the person is gone.
August 11th, 2015 12:53am
Yes, it is perfectly normal. But, that may require therapy if it goes on too long. Denial is a stage in grief. It depends on how severe the denial is. But please continue to talk about it and I am sorry for your loss. Hope this helps. :)
August 11th, 2020 7:37pm
to a certain degree, yes, i think it’s normal. pretending they’re still there could be used as a coping mechanism. losing someone you love can put immense strain on the person closest to the deceased and the support system that would’ve been present pre-passing on. but there should come a time where the individual feels comfortable to let go. thus, it is vital that the individual who lost their beloved should let go when they feels comfortable. respecting their boundaries and coping mechanisms are vital in helping them feel loved and supported which inevitably, makes the healing process a lot more bearable.
May 10th, 2015 1:23pm
no its just shocked and have trauma experience. it will take time to heal. you need to accept it and move on in your life. life goes but everyone will taste death we never know when. we are all here for some reason so just move on with your life. nothing is permanent!
November 17th, 2015 2:07pm
that is very normal, but we can't be forever in that situation, you need to get through and continue live, losing someone that you love not meant you ruin your live, continue your dream and keep that person in your heart.
April 18th, 2017 6:43am
A lot of times we might pretend they are still living and around, because we are unable to cope with the loss. This is totally normal, losing someone you love isn't always easy. I suggest talking to a close friend or therapist, and discuss your recent loss - and find ways to cope with it.
June 8th, 2021 6:26am
I can't tell if this feeling of pretending that this person still exists and not accepting that it's gone is normal or not. What I can say is that grief is a natural process, resulting from the formation and breaking of emotional bonds, and that occurs all the time in an individual's life. It is part of human development and, despite being a universal experience, it is experienced and lived in a very private and subjective way. THE PHASES OF GRIEF. There are key moments during the loss process: SHOCK: We experience numbness, an initial reaction to loss, when there may be difficulty in perceiving emotions. There is no set duration for this period, it can last hours or days. DENIAL: it is common to have a period of denying the loss, demonstrating a certain resistance to the real facts and avoiding thinking and talking about the subject. DISORGANIZATION AND DESPAIR: it is a moment lived after the end of denial, when reality is accepted and a feeling of uncertainty is established. REORGANIZATION AND ELABORATION OF THE LOSS: it's a comeback, the time to 'put the house in order' and rebuild concepts to start over. These are just some of the feelings experienced by those who experience grief. THE LOVED PERSON DIES AND WE NEED TO BE REBORN. Respect your time, your limits and move forward, albeit slowly. This is the most important rule for anyone facing loss. “Grieving is painful, yes. It takes patience to adapt to the new reality and deal with it. It is essential to recognize your needs and limits, and experience this process in a respectful way with yourself. Sharing and comforting your pain with people close to you, with whom you feel welcomed and at ease, can be a good strategy to get through this difficult time.
December 7th, 2015 8:24pm
it is normal as that is one of the stages of grief but eventually you will need to move on. you can always move on and not forget them
December 27th, 2015 6:15pm
Yes and no, but all I can say is try to keep all the Memories you had with that person and at the same time move on with your life because if you just remembered all the memories you had, it is going to affect your life so try to move on and always keep that person in your heart
February 21st, 2016 5:35am
It's a common occurrence, however it's not healthy. Eventually we all need to let go, and move on with our lives, it's what they would have wanted. This may be due to shock or immense grief, sometimes people need more support than others, or else they'll find it difficult to cope.
May 17th, 2016 10:07am
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November 21st, 2017 8:58am
Yes to a point. There is general anxieties about them coming back. The typical "miracle dream" but to not accept it and move on can be very unhealthy in the long run. Grief is different for all and you can't rush someone. Just support through all these things that happened. Ride the wave together and help the grieving person stay afloat when needed.
December 5th, 2017 2:39pm
Yes, definitely. The five stages of grief don't necessarily occur in that order or at all but a common reaction is denial. It is natural. It is also really healthy to talk to a good grief counsellor because often we need help to process something so overwhelming.