Dandelion seeds blowing in the breeze

Introduction to bereavement section.

Though you may have talked and prepared, it is still natural to grieve when somebody dies and you are deprived of a direct relationship with them. Hopefully, though the grieving is less painful and more bearable and you can be more supportive of each other.

Everyone experiences grief in different ways. That is normal.  For some rebuilding a life is a gradual climb. For others it is more like rolling waves with ups and downs.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross developed a five stage model of the grieving process as a loose framework to describe a general process of grief of how a person might move through it. 

Some people go through all these stages, others may not experience any.  ‘Our grieving is as individual as our lives,’  Kübler-Ross said.

Common symptoms of grief can be:
  • Shock and disbelief
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Physical symptoms (fatigue, nausea, weight fluctuation, insomnia, dry mouth, dizziness, breathlessness)

Remember that feelings of grief can start before a person dies. There is a loss of how things used to be and changes in the relationships.
Also, someone dying may feel a sense of grief before they die – the loss of their future and all that goes with it, for example important personal or family milestones.

Cruse is a charity that specialise in bereavement care and discusses in detail the issues surrounding different scenarios of grief and how to cope.  They also offer support.

It is possible and natural to feel moments of happiness and pleasure even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process. If, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant, it is time to seek help.

Below are some signs that might indicate it would be a good idea to talk to your GP about the way you feel.

If you feel you can relate to several of these, do seek help:

  • Feeling that life is empty or meaningless
  • Intense, pervasive sense of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Slow speech and body movements
  • Inability to function at work, home, and/or school
  • Feeling like life isn’t worth living
  • Wishing you had died with your loved one
  • Blaming yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
  • Feeling numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks
  • Having difficulty trusting others since your loss
  • Being unable to perform your normal daily activities
Finding professional help

Be kind to yourself.  It’s important and natural to grieve. If you have concerns check when to seek help.
Take physical care of yourself, eat well and take some exercise during the week, if at all possible. This will free you up to take care of yourself emotionally.
Listen to yourself. Find what comforts you. Some of us lose motivation.  Maybe devise a routine for the week to give time some structure.  In other words, ‘go through the motions’. This may lay the basis of changing from acting on automatic to gradually feeling real, again.

As you may have done before the death of a loved one, talking is good for you. Talk to anyone who will listen supportively. It is OK to feel emotive, cry and feel down at times. Good friends and family will understand and be there for you. If you are on your own then seek advice as to who can help such as Cruse or other bereavement groups.

This may not be easy depending on the depth of grief or how much the person has emotionally hidden themselves as a way of coping. Sometimes just being there until they surface is all you can do. If you notice signs as described above seek what professional care that you can from GP or bereavement councillors .

Listening and understanding are powerful aids.

Practical help with the normal needs of living can be a way of usefully being around somebody. Non-specific offers of help, however well meant, are sometimes difficult to take up and manage. Try offering something specific, a meal, making funeral arrangements or to contact other friends or relatives.

Keep trying. Be patient. Over time, your help may be wanted even if it wasn’t before.
Be careful not to smother. Nobody wants to feel powerless.
Listening is the secret. Remember no two people are alike. What you think you would like may not be right for others.