Coping with the loss of a loved one...
The death of someone dear to us is one of the most difficult situations we will ever face. Different people go through it in different ways. It is a natural process and there is no right or wrong. Experts describe 4 stages which most people will go through, but this is not a smooth process where people move from one stage to another. In many cases people can go backwards and forwards. The fact that you are not progressing through your bereavement as you expect is not necessarily a cause for concern.
These are the stages commonly listed:
- Accepting our loved one has passed
- Feeling distressed and grieving our loss
- Gradually finding a way to adapt to life without our loved one
- Resuming our life and spending less time going through feelings of grief
Whilst you go through those you can feel overwhelmed with sadness, feeling guilty and regretting things you said or did (or things you did not say or do), feeling empty or in a daze or feeling angry with yourself, with your loved one or with others. These are all quite common and do not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your grieving period. You can have difficulty sleeping, have problems coping with your day to day life or struggle to concentrate or remember things. Some people can dream or even see or hear their loved one. This can all be part of the normal grieving process.
There are a few things you can do to help yourself through the grieving process. Talking about your loss with family or friends is a normal part of the grieving process. If you do not feel you can do this you can ring the Cruse helpline on 0844 477 9400 or contact your GP for information on local bereavement services. Try not to avoid talking about your loved one, others might pick up on that and keep quiet as they think they might upset you. Anniversaries can be hard as well so think about how to best get through those difficult days. Some people like to be surrounded by family other prefer to remain active and carry on with their normal duties, again there is no right or wrong here.
When to seek help
Whilst most people recover from bereavement sooner or later, some people may need help from health professionals as occasionally it can trigger depression or anxiety (or both). Consider contacting your GP if:
- You have great difficulty sleeping or you sleep for too long
- You start losing weight or you start eating excessively
- You find yourself unable to take care of yourself or your family
- You find it impossible to function at work or in your normal activities outside the home
- You have recurrent strong and distressing feelings of guilt over your loved one’s death
- You feel like you can’t carry on living without your loved one
- You feel so angry that you start taking it out on others and find yourself losing control over it
- You start using drugs or alcohol to cope with your loss