The death of someone we care deeply about can trigger a range of emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt or confusion. It can overwhelm us, leaving us feeling lost, bewildered and exhausted.
Grieving for the loss of a loved one is a way of coming to terms with what has happened. It starts the process of finding a way to adapt so that you can learn to live with the situation. There is no time limit on how long you might mourn our loss. Each individual will be different, but if you feel you aren’t coping with life, then you should consider seeking help. For more information on support available in The Coates Centre click here to access the Bereavement Support page. For a list of national and local helplines Click Here. If you feel you would benefit from counselling you can download a self-referral form Click Here.
How grief can affect people
Initially you may experience shock or denial at what has happened or even find it hard to accept that the person you have lost is no longer with you. This may cause you to believe you see that person, maybe in a shop or on the street. You may hear their voice or talk to them. This is all perfectly natural in the early stages of grief as your mind adapts to what has happened.
You may find it difficult to eat or sleep. It is important though to ensure you eat a nutritionally balanced diet and look after your own wellbeing even if you do not currently see the point of it. Consider reading a book or listening to a mindfulness app before going to sleep. You may want to do some exercise. Whatever the intensity, it can help regulate mood and help with sleep problems. Your immune system may be lowered and you may suffer aches and pains or fatigue. These are all common symptoms of the body’s reaction to what has happened.
Anger is another completely natural emotion that people experience, often due to a sense of unfairness at the situation. This may be directed at the person who has died, at yourself, other people or the world around you. You may have new responsibilities to deal with which can seem insurmountable. Anger can trigger a sense of abandonment and of your life being out of control.
Sadness and crying are the most common responses to grief. Not everyone cries, and it is not a sign of weaknesses if you do. In fact it can help to release pain. You may find there are days you get through without crying but at other times you are unable to control this symptom of grief.
Losing a loved one can result in a loss of purpose leading to despair and depression. It can trigger contemplation of our own mortality which might result in fear for the future. In some cases, it can feel like there is no point in carrying on living. It is very important not to dwell on these thoughts but to share your feelings with someone you know and trust who can help you focus on the positive things in your life. For some people, it can be beneficial to enlist the support of a bereavement counsellor. If you feel you might benefit from counselling you can download a self-referral form to complete Here.
There may also be a sense of relief after a person has had a long illness, thus leaving you feeling guilty. The same emotion might result from the idea that you didn’t do enough to help your loved one or could have prevented their death in some way. Feelings of remorse can also be a common trigger if you have had a difficult or confusing relationship with the person.
After some time you may feel that you are having longer periods of good days. You can think about past experiences without deep sadness and also begin to make plans for new ones. You will come to see that the past will always be with you and you can enjoy the present and the future.
In summary, it is important to give yourself permission and take time to grieve. Don’t try to avoid feelings of anger, guilt, fear or self-pity but talk to a trusted friend. No one has the same experience and others will not know what it is like for you. Everyone needs to find their own way of coping.