Coping With Bereavement

The death of a loved one can be devastating. There is help and support out there for you.

Bereavement can affect people in many different ways and various emotions can kick in at differing times throughout the grieving process. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Powerful emotions can overtake daily life and come on suddenly from an unexpected memory or innocent remark.

To begin with you may feel shock or numbness or simply feel that you are in a daze. There can be overwhelming sadness with lots of crying and the inability to feel in control. You can get angry at the situation, the illness or accident that took them from you, or even at your loved one for leaving you.

Guilt is another feeling that can become entwined with all of the others. Guilt for feeling angry, guilt for something you said or didn’t say, even guilt for not being able to prevent your loved one dying.

All of these feelings are perfectly natural and normal. None of these negative thoughts and feelings make you a bad person. It is just nature’s way of helping you sort out your feelings and the situation in your own time and your own way.

It is also natural throughout this period to feel very tired or even exhausted. You can become distracted and forgetful during this period too, as your mind is overloaded with grief from your bereavement.

Stages of Bereavement

It is recognised by doctors that there are four main stages of bereavement:

  • Accepting that your loss is real

  • Experiencing the pain of grief

  • Adjusting to life without the person who has died

  • Moving on (putting less emotional energy into grieving and channelling it into something else - or even better, something new)

Not everyone moves from one phase smoothly into the next and there is no set timescale for feelings to become less intense. It is a gradual process.

Sometimes, even when people feel ready to move on, it can feel really daunting to get back into the community. Especially if you have lost a partner of many years and used to do nearly everything together.

It can be difficult too, if you have spent a long time as a carer with hardly any free time to follow your own hobbies or interests.

There are many clubs, organisations and volunteering opportunities that will welcome you. Use your local paper, community boards or the internet to explore the varied options. Phoning the leader of the group first is a good idea. That way, you can find out the general format and know that someone will be expecting you at your first meeting.

Help and support

There are many organisations who will be pleased to provide help and support. Here are a few, but for a specific need, the internet or your local library will be able to help you locate more:

Child Bereavement Help

Support for families when a baby or child is dying or has died.  They also support children who are facing (or dealing with) bereavement.

Cruse Bereavement Care

Somewhere to turn when someone dies.

Macmillan Cancer Support

National Bereavement Partnership

Road Peace

The UK’s national charity for road crash victims, providing support to those bereaved or injured in a road crash.

The Samaritans

SSAFA Forces Help

Giving support for our Armed Forces, Veterans and their families.

Sue Ryder Online Bereavement Support

Free access to one-to-one professional support, community forums and expert information resources.

The War Widows Association of Great Britain