Advice Grief, Loss & Bereavement How to deal with grief

How to deal with grief

How to deal with grief

How you deal with grief 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.

Although people often talk about the five stages of grief, every experience 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. It is important to know that these are all a natural part of the grieving process. Knowing that they're common may help the feelings seem more normal.

However, you might not experience these emotions in that order, maybe you’ll experience other emotions, or none at all. Everyone is different.

How Octopus Legacy can help you deal with grief

Octopus Legacy was created after our founders Mum died. The support he received from family and friends was amazing, but overwhelming. So a year or so later he created our Support Hubs, they were what he needed when he was dealing with grief. They are a space to organise the funeral, rally emotional and functional support, and share memories of the person you love, long after the funeral.

Support Hubs are here to help you.

They are free to create and simple to use.

Create a support hub today.

Dealing with grief is about as tough as it gets. We can’t make it better but we can definitely help.

Other useful resources to help you deal with grief

We’ve pulled together a long list of options that you can turn to for bereavement support, depending on your particular need, here.

What are some practical things to help me deal with grief?

Dealing with grief means that your world has stopped. But life hasn’t. It never stops. There is work to do. Meals to cook. A house to clean. Bills waiting to be paid.

It’s important to lean on your support circle for help to give yourself some breathing room and to break things into small chunks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Start with these four top tips below:

  1. Ask for help
  2. Eat
  3. Make lists on lists
  4. Try to maintain your daily routine

1. Ask for help

Your loved ones are here to help you deal with grief. Reaching out to them for functional and emotional support, will help you to remember you’re not alone and will help prevent you feeling overwhelmed. Can they pick up your shopping, run errands for you, or simply be a shoulder to cry on when you need it most? They can’t take away your grief but they can sit in it with you.

2. Eat

Dealing with grief can steal your hunger and turn your favourite meals into your worst enemy. But food gives you energy, and you need energy to function. Go back to the basics. Try something simple. Eat little and often. Even when you don’t have an appetite.

3. Make lists on lists

You may have had the most amazing memory, but dealing with grief everyday can cloud things and make your memory fuzzy. Your energy is concentrated on dealing with your pain and grief. You will forget the most basic things. Don’t beat yourself up. Writing things down, or even a to-do list can help you start taking those first steps and make delegating easier if you need to ask for help.

4. Try to maintain your daily routine:

Dealing with grief can feel like being stuck, unable to move. But sometimes action is better than no action. Each and every step makes the next step just a bit easier, building momentum as you go. Prioritising simple tasks can be a great place to start.

What are some of the physical symptoms of grief?

Dealing with grief doesn’t just hit us emotionally. It can hit us physically too. Everyone is different, but here are some of the physical symptoms of grief that are particularly common. It can be helpful to know that you’re not alone when experiencing the physical impact of grief.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Exhaustion
  • Panic attacks
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
  • Weight loss and weight gain
  • Aches and pains

How do I know if I need professional help to deal with grief?

It’s normal to need professional help when dealing with grief. Asking for help is okay, and sometimes it is recommended. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, stuck or experiencing feelings of emptiness or despair, it’s worth seeking out professional support. They will be able to help you navigate the best route forward for you.

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 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

It is always a good idea to talk to a professional after life-changing events. They work with families dealing with grief every day, so don’t feel embarrassed. People deal with grief at different speeds and in different ways. Some people need 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.

How will I deal with grief in the longer term?

Dealing with grief doesn’t have a sell by date or a cut off point. Grief never really goes away, it just shape-shifts and changes over time. We find Lauren Herschel’s analogy of how we experience and deal with grief over time particularly helpful. We hope you will too. Here goes:

There’s a box with a ball in it and a pain button.
To start with, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button - that’s grief.
It rattles around on its own and hits the button over and over. Sometimes it feels like it’s permanently pressing on the pain button. You can’t control it. It keeps hurting. Sometimes dealing with that grief can feel relentless.

Over time the ball gets smaller. It hits the grief button less and less. But when it does, it hurts just as much. It’s better because it’s easier to cope day to day. But now and then the ball will still hit the grief button.

For most people the ball never really goes away. However it hits less and less and there is more time between each pain point.

Being able to explain to the people around you that today is a ‘ball on button’ kind of day helps you reach for support when dealing with grief in the long term.

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