Dealing with a loss
Losing a loved one is difficult at any time, but with so many changes to our usual customs or beliefs, this can feel even harder when arranging a funeral. These changes may mean you have many questions that you need to be answered, and we will try to help you where we can and if not provide you with partners or charities that will be there to guide you and your family through this process, especially when you may not be able to meet with your wider family or friends for extra support.
We want to help you find the support that feels right for you, at a time that feels right for you and those around you.
Although death is part of life, it can be a distressing and confusing experience. Each person’s experience of the death of someone important to them will be unique and personal.
Emotional responses you may experience
Following the death of someone close to you, you might experience a wide range of emotions:
- You may feel an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness, while for others the events surrounding their relative/friend’s death seem unreal; like a dream. They describe feeling numb and unable to cry or show any emotion.
- Sometimes people wish they could have done more for the person who has died and may experience this as feelings of guilt about certain things they believe they have or have not done.
- It is normal to feel angry about the circumstances of the death of your relative/friend, at the injustice or senselessness of it all and what seems like other people’s inability to understand. Sometimes when a relative/friend has been suffering because of a long illness or in situations where people have been in difficult relationships, death can bring a sense of relief.
- Some people want to talk about the person who has died and the experiences they have shared. They want people around them as they find this comforting. Other people find it difficult to talk about the person who has died and how they feel. You may find yourself responding in either of these ways. This is a normal and expected response. During this time you may find you withdrawn from contact with certain people for a while.
- For some people the death of someone close to them brings questions about the meaning of life and death. People sometimes become preoccupied with difficult or upsetting events and find themselves going over the details again and again to try and make sense of what has happened. As part of the process of trying to make sense of the death of their relative/friend some people struggle with the questions ‘why has it happened?’ and ‘why has it happened to me?’.
- People can also experience a wide range of physical responses when someone close to them dies. The most frequent experiences are tiredness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and difficulty concentrating and making decisions. Some people experience stiffness, localised pains, headaches and dizziness. Others have described a feeling of panic, which is associated with shortness of breath, excessive sweating and mild tremors or shaking. If you experience these symptoms, seek advice from your GP.
Looking after yourself while you grieve
It is important that during this time you take good care of yourself by eating healthily, and establishing a routine of sleeping, exercise and relaxation.
Some people have found it helpful to talk to family, friends, other people that have been through a similar experience or a professional, for example a counsellor or a chaplain. Others have found keeping a journal, writing poems or letters and playing music comforting. Reading books about other people’s experience of death and bereavement can also be beneficial.
Anniversary dates and holidays can be difficult times. Creating rituals or ways to mark special days you shared with your relative/friend can help to make these days meaningful.
Help is available
You may wish to seek help if:
- you want to talk to someone and you do not have people close to you who you can share your feelings and thoughts with
- over a period of time, you find it difficult to concentrate and make decisions
- you find yourself relying more on medication, drugs or alcohol
- you continue to find it difficult to sleep and eat
- over a period, you are avoiding places and people that remind you about the person who has died
- relationship difficulties or sexual problems develop
- over a period of time you are troubled by constant thinking or dreaming about the person who has died
- you are concerned about how your children are coping with a bereavement. Organisations supporting bereaved children and their families are included under ‘Other support services’.
After the death of a relative/friend some people may find that life no longer makes sense or has meaning.
This can contribute to feelings of despair, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. This can be part of the normal grieving process; however, please seek help from your GP or other professionals if you are worried about having suicidal thoughts or if you intend to end your life.
There are lots of organisations who can offer help, please see our bereavement support helpline and resources page for support and contact information.