Coping with bereavement
Bereavement and Grief
What is Bereavement and Grief?
Bereavement is the experience of losing someone or something that is important to us.
Grief is the natural process following bereavement that all of us experience to greater or lesser degrees as a result of our loss. For many of us it can be the most distressing experience we may ever face and we can feel overwhelmed or that we may never feel the same again. For others, grief can be delayed and we can feel guilty for not feeling as emotional as we anticipated. Processing grief will be a different and unique experience for everyone and there is no ‘normal’ or right way to grieve. You may have heard about the different stages of the grief process, there is no one set of emotions that you may experience or follow in a particular order but you may recognise some of those mentioned below, many people describe these as coming in waves at different times rather than a set pattern.
Symptoms and feelings you may experience:
- Shock, disbelief, numbness
- Physical pain
- Anger, rage, frustration
- Restlessness, anxiety, difficulty focussing
- Depression and low mood
- Longing and bargaining
- Crying or being more sensitive to emotional triggers than normal
The most important thing to remember is that this is a natural process and with time, the majority of us eventually move through this period to a sense of peace. If, however symptoms persist or impact significantly on your daily functioning you should seek further help from one of the services listed below.
What can help?
Self care and taking care of you is really important, things such as:
- Giving yourself permission to grieve and not place undue expectations on yourself – things won’t be ‘normal’ right now
- Being compassionate towards yourself, giving yourself space to grieve and feel the pain.
- You may experience reduced or loss of appetite. Try to maintain eating little and often
- Rest is important especially if you have trouble sleeping. Speak to your GP if you notice you are going for very long periods without sleeping. You may need some extra support.
- Try to avoid alcohol, it can disrupt sleep and also lower your mood.
- Breathe; breathing mindfully and meditation can help support your immune system.
- Keep moving, just one short walk a day, alone or with someone you trust can help both physically and mentally.
- Talking to someone you trust about the person you have lost and what your relationship was like with them.
- Talking about your memories along with how you are feeling.
- Tell people what you need. You may experience people around you not knowing what to say, or being worried about causing you more pain. By telling them what you need and talking about your feelings they can better support you.
- If you are struggling to express how you are feeling verbally, turn to the arts, painting, drawing, sculpting, writing, poetry and music can be extremely supportive when you can’t find the words to express how you are feeling.
- Creating a memorial or memory album can be useful to turn to
Time, patience & understanding
- Take time, be kind to yourself. It’s ok to show your emotions, even numbness or anger.
- Ask for help or accept help from friends, family or work colleagues. They may be able to help with practical day to day tasks
- Remember different faiths and religions will have various ways to recognise, mourn and also celebrate the death of a loved one.
- Be patient with others, everyone grieves differently and you may notice someone close to you grieving in a different way to you, again this is ok, there is no set way.
If you find yourself or a loved one really struggling to come to terms with what has happened then you might consider talking to your GP or finding out how a talking therapy can support you.
Bereavement is a personal experience and can affect people in different ways.
You can find information about understanding and managing grief from the following organisations:
- NHS advice on dealing with bereavement, grief and loss
- Cruse Bereavement Support to learn more about the grieving process
- National Bereavement Service for ways to manage grief
- The Good Grief Trust for support if you are newly bereaved
You can find someone to speak to about bereavement from the following organisations:
- Cruse Bereavement Support for local one to one support and group sessions
- The Marie Curie helpline for ongoing support over the phone
- Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Support includes an online community to talk to others who are grieving, a video chat counselling service and personalised grief support by text message
- AtaLoss for free live chat with a bereavement counsellor
Citizens Advice has guidance about what happens after a death and things you might need to do, depending on the circumstances.
Health Assured can offer counselling for bereavement. Find out more in their bereavement support guide (PDF, 1.4 MB)
You can also access support from places such as Cruse Bereavement Care. You can call their free helpline on 0808 808 1677. Cruse offers support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies. There is also specialist support for people that maybe grieving whilst in isolation due to the coronavirus.
Support from your employer
- Let your line manager know what has happened and how you are feeling, they might consider referring you to Occupational Health for support
- Consider using the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP): Free, confidential advice and support 24/7 for all staff – via self-referral Phone 0800 030 5182
- Visit healthassured.org/ (Username: Gloucester and Password: Council)
- Access to online and telephone counselling