Coping with Bereavement

Death is a natural event, and grief and bereavement are normal reactions to this.

Shock

At first, you will experience intense shock and disbelief. You may feel numb, disorientated, and as if everything were a dream. This will pass but may last sometime. Shock is a natural reaction to death. This can be more poignant if you were the person who found the body.

You may experience:

  • Flashbacks.
  • A numb unreal feeling.
  • Loss of concentration and memory.
  • Guilt about surviving.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • You may have dreams and nightmares.
  • You may startle easily.

These symptoms can occur immediately, or even a year or two after the event. Talking about your feelings can minimise the hurt you are feeling.

Grief

You may...
Find that you do not grieve for some time, but when you do, the feelings can be extreme and overwhelming.
 
You may...
Have feelings of intense anger, depression or isolation.
 
You may...
Not believe what has happened; or feel very anxious about other members of your family, or people to whom you are close.
 
You may...
Feel guilt and rejection.
 
You may...
Feel exhausted or agitated.
 
You may...
Hear the voice of the person who died, or feel them near you, or think that you see them.
 
You may...
Have feelings of complete blankness.
 
You may...
Experience waves of intense feelings and then times when you feel nothing.

All these feelings are completely normal.

Recovering

It is important to allow yourself time to mourn. It can feel like convalescing from a long illness. You may need peace and quiet, time on your own, time to talk and time to think and rest.

It may take a long time and you will never be the same again, but some positive things can come from it.

It is not a good idea to move house, or make any major decisions about your life, job, etc. for a year or so. You will not be able to leave the bereavement behind you just by moving.

Well meaning people may offer advice, but each experience of bereavement is unique, they may not really understand and this might upset you further. It is better to allow yourself to grieve in your own way.

Members of a family will all grieve at different rates and this could cause distress unless it is understood. It is really important to keep communicating with each other. Although you will be experiencing different things at different times, if you can talk about them, you will be able to help each other. It is also important to allow children to grieve, and to talk to them. They may feel that it was their fault.

At first, you may find that you can only remember the difficulties and distress that the dead person suffered leading up to the death. It will take time, but you will begin to remember the happy times too.