Grief and Bereavement
Grief is a common emotional response to loss, which often occurs following the death of a loved one, family member or friend. It is a common experience that most people will go through at some point during their lives. It is important to remember that whilst there are some common patterns to grief, each person’s experience is individual and can change over time. There is no right or wrong way to feel about the death of someone you know and it is possible to feel multiple and conflicting emotions at the same time.
The grieving process is affected by several factors, including how attached we felt to the person, our relationship to them, and the circumstances of their death. Following a bereavement it is common to see improvements, only to feel worse again shortly after. There are no timelines within which a person is expected to feel better, however if grief persists and disrupts daily life for a long period this may be a sign of something called ‘complex grief’.
Actions that can help
- Allow emotions: Intense emotions are a normal response to a bereavement and it is important not to judge yourself or to try to get rid of feelings such as sadness and anger. Letting emotions take their natural course may help in the long run.
- Keep a routine: Try to maintain a routine and balance in your life, for example keeping up with activities you enjoy (even if it is hard to enjoy them during grief), taking regular exercise, eating regularly and maintaining a good sleep pattern.
- Stay in touch: It is common to feel isolated and alone during grief or even to think that people will not want to be around you. It is important to remember that most people have experienced some kind of bereavement themselves and will want to support you if you let them.
- Do what it takes: Grief can be a consuming experience and there will be days when things are easier and days when things are harder. These might not always be predictable although special occasions or anniversaries can be particularly difficult. Allow yourself to do whatever is needed to do to get through the day, such as taking the day off work, seeing friends, asking someone to help you (for example with childcare) or doing something to remember the person who has died.
- Seek support - Everyone is different and will adjust to loss in their own way. It may be helpful to reach out to someone to talk about how you are feeling and coping. This could be a friend, family member or a healthcare professional. See a list of local services here.