Grief and Bereavement
Losing a loved one or someone you are close to is overwhelmingly difficult. Whether it be a family member, friend or pet, grief effects everyone at some point in their lives.
You cannot predict how you will react to a loss but it is important to recognise that grief is a normal and healthy response and that there is no right or wrong way to feel. Grief can manifest in different ways and impacts everyone differently. Additionally, there is also no set time limit for dealing with grief.
Factors impacting the time spent in bereavement depend on the type of relationship to the person, the situation surrounding their death and the time spent anticipating their death. Some may not feel anything at all to begin with whilst others may be overcome with emotions. It is important to not be too much pressure on yourself to feel better when dealing a bereavement.
What feelings are associated with grief?
- Shock. This is often the first stage of losing someone. It may not sink in for a while and you may or may not cry at this stage.
- Sadness or depression. This stage is often accompanied by crying, pain and distress. This may be overwhelming and cause you to believe that you are not coping.
- Denial or disbelief. This is our mind’s way of protecting us from pain, causing us to feel numb. Numbness can also help us to process the situation at a pace to make it more manageable.
- Anger. You may feel anger at the situation or anger towards the person for leaving you. Losing someone can feel unfair and therefore, you may want someone to blame.
- Guilt. You may blame yourself and think about what more you could have done. In particular, suicide may cause a sense of shame or guilt in particular. While this is a common reaction, it is important to remember that the reasons for suicide are complex and you are not to blame.
- Blame. You may feel relief it the individual was suffering with a long term or painful illness. This can also be the case if you were the main care giver or you had a difficult relationship with the individual. Relief is a normal response and does not mean you did not love or care for them.
What are the three types of grief?
- Anticipatory Grief. Sense of loss we feel when we are expecting a death. This can allow us to prepare for the loss and the future.
- Secondary Loss. This refers to feeling sadness when thinking of future experiences and key life events which the person will not be there to share or see.
- Collective Grief. This occurs when a group of experience a loss together. For example, the loss of a public figure. This can occur on a local or national level. Some may feel comfort in processing the loss as a community.
Coping with grief
Following a loss, some people may choose to seek help immediately by showing their emotions and talking to people. Whilst others may prefer to deal with things slowly, quietly and independently.
Overtime, these emotions and feelings of grief tend to become less intense and people find a way to cope and live with them. Time will not take away the grief, but it can make it easier to adapt and accept the loss and build new meaning.
What can I do?
- Talk to family or friends. It is so important to talk to those close to you rather than bottling up emotions.
- Talking therapy. If you feel like your grief is leading to depression, therapy could be a good option. Talk to your GP or look online for therapy groups.
- Do things that make you feel more like you again. For example, playing sports, reading books, seeing friends.
- Get outdoors. Fresh air has the power to lower our blood pressure and reduce stress. Looking at nature can boost our mood and make us feel more alive.
How can you help someone dealing with a loss?
If you know someone dealing with a bereavement, you may want to support them without the worry of saying the ‘wrong thing’. Here are some examples of how to help:
- Acknowledge the loss. Avoiding contact with the person can cause feelings of isolation. Reaching out to the bereaved person lets them know you are available to talk and listen.
- Find out the best form of contact. Ask the bereaved person how they would like to be contacted. For example, some may find receiving text messages easier whilst others may prefer to be seen in person.
- Give them space. Do not pressure them in to doing things out of their comfort zone. Adapting to life after a loss can take a long time and therefore, they should be allowed the space to process their emotions for as long as they may need.
- Talk about the person. When a person dies it can feel like they are erased from people’s lives and memories. You may fear that talking about the deceased person will bring up painful feelings. However, many people actually appreciate and find it comforting to talk about the person.
- Focus on listening. Try to respect what the bereaved person is choosing to share with you rather than finding out more.
Where can I get support?
NHS Talking Therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, are free and you are able to refer yourself directly.
Find a talking therapy near you: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/mental-health/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/
Cruse Bereavement Care
Cruse Bereavement Care provides bereavement support to people across the UK.
Call: 808 808 1677
Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan Cancer Support provides information and support for anyone affected by cancer.
Call: 0808 808 0000
Grief Encounter is a charity supporting children and their families who have experienced the death of someone close to them.
Call: 0808 802 0111
Winston’s Wish support children, young people and their families after the death of a parent or sibling.
Call: 0808 802 0021
The New Normal
The New Normal runs grief support meetings to connect young adults who have experienced loss and are looking for others in similar situations who understand.
UK Motherless Daughters Facebook Group
Many people have set up their online communities or accounts exploring grief and bereavement. For example, the UK Motherless Daughters Facebook group is a closed space for people to share their experiences and feelings.