In this section I want to show how your personal development influences the ways in which you deal with loss. Development can be seen as going through several stages that succeed each other, while at the same time higher stages include the stages before them. Each stage has different aspects that are important to deal with when going through a process of mourning. And the message of this section is that all the aspects from all those stages need to be taken into account and dealt with to completely go through your process of mourning.
I will use a generalised model of development for the purpose of simplicity. Extensive and detailed models of human development in areas such as cognition, morality, value-systems and many others exist, but these all come down to a few general stages of development that we all go through from childhood. Some people reach further than other people, because the world around us provides each person reasons to develop ourselves up to a certain point or reasons to develop ourselves further.
So, generally, our levels of development can be called as follows, in the order of how they develop in us throughout life:
So how do we deal with loss at each of these levels? Firstly, keep in mind that you will need to deal with all of them up to your current level of development. Lower levels of development are also part of who you are and therefore need to be given attention. So we’ll start with the lowest level and gradually move on to higher levels.
After a lot of practical things have rushed by, you can start focussing on the emotional, personal side of things. The first step in the mourning process is to realise how the loss of the loved one affects you personally. There is a somewhat egocentric aspect in this and there is nothing wrong with that at all. This is in the first place a personal loss that you need to deal with yourself. So, in this stage, focus on yourself and ask yourself some questions:
Do take all the time you need to deal with these feelings and questions. Do it your own way: either on your own or in communication with others. Either in silence or by being active in one way or the other. This period where you experience all this may take long, several months or even up to a year or longer. This is perfectly normal, so give yourself the time to deal with it. There are no set rules for how long mourning should take, nor are there phases that you need to go through. It is your own personal process, so you need to deal with it in your own way.
Part of this phase can also be ideas that some cultures have about how the dead influence our lives. These may involve ideas like the dead having direct influence on what our fates are, us having to keep them satisfied to avoid things going wrong in our lives or general reverence for the dead. These may seem strange from a modern perspective, but if looked at in a more metaphorical way, you can see the essence of it. That essence consists of looking at how you let yourself be influenced by the deceased person:
What is the meaning of the deceased person for you when you continue your life without him? How does what he did and who he was continue to influence the way in which you lead your life? You may think of how things he used to do continue to play a role in your life. How things that belonged to him now have a special significance to you, how a picture of him becomes a special object in your house.
You might instate certain rituals for a while when visiting their grave, to indicate for yourself how much you still care for them. Burning a candle for the deceased has a similar function. Just keep in mind that the ritual itself is not the aim: the aim is for ourselves to remember the one we lost by means of that ritual. And through that we can gradually grow to accept the loss and create a distance to him without feeling guilty or being afraid of forgetting about him.
 I will only use the common male form from now on to keep the text readable. Obviously, wherever the male form is used, the female form can be substituted instead.