Updated: Dec 20, 2022
Coping with bereavement.
The death of a loved one can be devastating.
Bereavement affects people in different ways. There's no right or wrong way to feel.
"You might feel a lot of emotions at once, or feel you're having a good day, then you wake up and feel worse again,"
Powerful feelings can come unexpectedly. "It's like waves on a beach. You can be standing in water up to your knees and feel you can cope, then suddenly a big wave comes and knocks you off your feet."
Stages of bereavement or grief
Experts generally accept there are four stages of bereavement:
accepting that your loss is real
experiencing the pain of grief
adjusting to life without the person who has died
putting less emotional energy into grieving and putting it into something new – in other words, moving on.
You'll probably go through all these stages, but you won't necessarily move smoothly from one to the next. Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control, but these feelings will eventually become less intense.
Feelings of grief
Give yourself time – these feelings will pass.
You might feel:
shock and numbness – this is usually the first reaction to the death, and people often speak of being in a daze
overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
tiredness or exhaustion
anger – for example, towards the person who died, their illness, or God
guilt – for example, guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or didn't say, or about not being able to stop your loved one dying.
These feelings are all perfectly normal. "The negative feelings don't make you a bad person. Lots of people feel guilty about their anger, but it's OK to be angry and to question why."
Some people become forgetful and less able to concentrate. You might lose things, such as your keys. This is because your mind is distracted by bereavement and grief.
You're not losing your sanity.
The GOV.UK website has information on what to do after someone dies, such as registering the death and planning a funeral.
Coping with grief
Talking and sharing your feelings with someone can help. Don't go through this alone. For some people, relying on family and friends is the best way to cope.
A bereavement counsellor can give you time and space to talk about your feelings, including the person who has died, your relationship, family, work, fears and the future.
You can have access to a bereavement counsellor at any time, even if the person you lost died a long time ago.