Coping with Bereavement

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Bereavement affects people in different ways. There’s no right or wrong way to feel.

Experts generally accept that people usually move through four stages of bereavement: 

  • accepting that your loss is real
  • experiencing the pain of grief
  • adjusting to life without the person who has died 
  • putting less emotional energy into grieving and putting it into something new (in other words, moving on)

You may go through stages, but you won’t necessarily move smoothly from one to the next. You may even get stuck at a stage. Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control, but these feelings will eventually become less intense….with time How long you ask? Good question, and there is no answer; grief is experienced differently among individuals, and unique to each loss.  

You might feel:

  • Shock and numbness (this is usually the first reaction to the death, and people often speak of being in a daze)
  • Overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
  • Tiredness or exhaustion
  • Anger, for example towards the person who died, their illness or God
  • Guilt, for example guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or didn’t say, or about not being able to stop your loved one dying
  • Some people become forgetful and less able to concentrate.

Coping with grief

We all cope with grief differently, and what is helpful varies from person to person. You may try: 

  • Talking and sharing your feelings with someone is often the most helpful thing you can do. You may speak with friends, family, colleagues, or a healthcare professional (e.g. psychologist, psychiatrist, GP). 
  • For some people, relying on family and friends is the best way to cope, But if you don’t feel you can talk to them much (perhaps you aren’t close, or they’re grieving too), you may benefit from engaging in self-care activities. These may include: exercise, pampering, going for a long walk, visiting a much-loved place, reading a book, walking the dog. Self-care is all about you, and doing what you enjoy or find relaxing. 
  • If distraction works well for you, get busy and productive!

If you’re out of ideas for self-care, head here: http://elishagoldstein.com/assets/183-pleasurable-activities-to-choose-from.pdf

Most importantly, be patient and compassionate, with yourself and others.  

If you are having trouble with a loss, give our team a call and arrange a consultation with one of our psychologists.