Dealing with Grief

Following the death of a family member or friend, you can and often do experience grief. How grief impacts you can depend on several factors. This includes the type of loss you have experienced, how close the person was to you, the way in which that person died, your upbringing, your beliefs, your age, your previous relationships, your current relationships, and both your physical and mental health.

How will grief impact you?

This is a very hard question to answer, and every journey is different. Some of the common first feelings are anxiety and helplessness, and this can be overwhelming. Some people can then go on to experience anger, and this can even be targeted at the person who has died as people can feel they have been “left them behind.'' Sadness often comes later, and generally after the funeral. You might not experience these emotions in that order, experience other emotions or none at all. It is important to know that these are all a natural part of the grieving process. Knowing that they're common may help them seem more normal. It's also important to know they'll pass.

Do you need help?

It is always a good idea to talk to a professional after life-changing events. They deal with families coping with bereavement every day, so don’t feel embarrassed. It is completely OK to ask for help. People go through the grieving journey at a different pace and some need a lot of help from a counsellor, therapist or their GP. The NHS provides psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and applied relaxation and these do not require a referral from a GP.

When to get help

Asking for help is ok, and sometimes it is recommended. The NHS recommends seeking help when:

  • you do not feel able to cope with overwhelming emotions or daily life
  • the intense emotions are not subsiding or are actually getting worse as time passes
  • you're not sleeping
  • you have symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • your relationships are suffering
  • you're having sexual problems
  • you're caring for someone who's not coping well

How to cope with grief and loss?

Unfortunately, there is no easy fix here and you might get overcome with emotion for months or even a year. After this time your grief is less likely to be at the forefront of your mind but can emerge from time to time. Life is full of triggers, like hearing a song, and these can bring back memories. It is ok to get upset now and again.

Practical things to help you cope with bereavement or loss

  • Talk to your loved ones – Having conversations with loved ones can help you feel better.
  • Be OK with feeling sad – Feeling sad and missing the person you have lost is normal, and it is part of the process. Don’t let this worry you.
  • Try to maintain your daily routine – Completing everyday tasks like housework or shopping can help you adjust to the new normal.
  • Make sure you sleep – Heightened emotions can be physically and mentally draining, and can often leave you feeling very tired. If this persists please talk to your GP.
  • Keep a healthy diet – Eating healthy will help you feel a little better.
  • Don’t try and numb the pain – Alcohol can make you feel a little better, but this is not a habit you should get into. Ultimately, it will make you feel worse once the numbness wears off.
  • Investigate counselling - Counselling might be something that will help, but don’t feel pressured to go. Only you will know when you are ready.

We have a partnership with the National Bereavement Service, if you need help call them on 0800 0248092. They will be able to help whether you need to chat or find a local bereavement group near you.

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