Most of us will experience bereavement and loss at some time
in our lives. Grief expresses itself in many different ways,
sometimes with powerful, frightening and confusing emotions. It
is common for these feelings to ebb and flow over a long period
of time, whilst those around us may feel "you should be coming
to terms with it by now." Although no two people's experience
will be the same, listed below are some of the common feelings,
which you may experience whilst grieving.
You may find yourself feeling very calm and rather detached.
Conversely you may feel completely at sea. Both are perfectly
Being unable to accept the loss
This often involves what has been called searching
behaviour. This means that at some level you are trying to deny
that the death has occurred, and in so doing you might find
yourself making mistakes, which can be worrying. For example,
thinking that you have seen or heard the person who has died, or
laying them a place at the table. You may even find yourself at
odd moments of the day actually looking for them. Again, this is
Anger and guilt
You may find yourself asking the question, why has this
happened? And why has this happened to me? It is common to wish
to find blame for it, in yourself, in others or even with the
person who has died, and this can result in powerful feelings of
anger and guilt (or sometimes both).
Despair and depression
There may be times when you lose interest in life and feel
that there is no point going on. You may even question your own
sanity. This, though painful, is a common reaction.
Usually this occurs with the passage of time and, when the
pain has eased somewhat, you may find yourself being able to
remember without feeling so overwhelmed. This can be a time for
you to begin life again, maybe to renew old interests or take up
new pursuits. This may feel disloyal to the person who has died,
however what has happened in the past is always a part of you
and will not be affected by your enjoying the present, or
planning for the future.
How you can help yourself
As well as going through many of the reactions outlined
above, you may experience many other feelings, such as panic,
relief, fear, self-pity. If you do experience these emotions you
may feel you ought to hide them, but they are an important and
necessary part of grieving and it can be of help to share them
with a sympathetic listener. You may feel hurt, isolated and
convinced that friends are avoiding you. Unfortunately this does
happen due to the embarrassment of not knowing what to say. It
may be up to you to take the first step and let others know you
need them and their support.
There is a very understandable urge
to avoid painful situations. It is sometimes very tempting to
feel that life would be more bearable if you moved house,
disposed of possessions or refused to see people. However, this
can make things worse and such decisions must be given great
thought. Bereavement is often a time of very painful emotions,
but all of these emotions are a very necessary part of the
It is not uncommon, as well as
feeling mentally taxed, to feel physically run down: to find it
difficult to eat, sleep and so on, but eventually these feelings
should fade and disappear. Bereavement can also be a very
isolating process when you may feel as if no one else could
possibly understand what you are going through.
If you feel worried about any of
your feelings or would simply like to talk with someone, do not
hesitate to approach your GP or your local Bereavement Service.
Following a bereavement, many people
find comfort from talking to, or confiding in someone outside
their immediate circle of family or close friends. Some are
voluntary community organisations; others are run by local
councils or are attached to hospitals and hospices. You may also
find comfort by talking to your local Parish Minister who will
be able to offer help and advice.
Useful Links -
Grief Journey is the website of Dr.
Bill Webster, whose advice on coping with bereavement has given
support and comfort to thousands of people. Dr. Bill has written
numerous books and produced tapes and videos to provide support,
not only after a death but also through the many challenges of
life. Dr. Bill understands the grieving process, not just in
theory but also from his personal experience. Walter H. Squires
& Son trusts his advice will help you come to terms with your
loss, and help you realise that the difficult times you may
experience and the emotions you face are normal.