Coping with bereavement

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Most of us will experience bereavement in our lifetime, and if we do, it is important that the right support is available to us.

The experience of loss can feel overwhelming and frightening. We may experience periods of disbelief, anger, shock and feeling as though you are numb. It is usually a difficult time as we feel unable to imagine our lives without the presence of a loved one, whether that is a parent, partner, sibling, child or a dear friend.

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Grief can take many forms and it can be experienced in a variety of ways from day to day, it is common to have waves of despair, followed by a feeling of being okay. This is your mind and body’s way of helping you gradually to accept the loss.

Emotionally, bereavement may manifest itself in depression, anxiety, shame, or relief that the end of suffering has occurred, envy when you encounter others who have not yet had the experience of loss or a feeling of being victimised by death etc.

It is important that during the days and months following a death that you take care of yourself, no matter how pointless or difficult it may seem. A proper diet, exercise and above all else communicating with others is helpful. Those who care about you will want to help you get to the other side. Intense bereavement can be overcome with good support.

If you feel you cannot speak to those closest to you, a professional counsellor can be a good option. 

Maybe someone has gone through this kind of loss themselves and are equipped to help you give voice to your feelings in a safe and comforting manner.

Some things you can do to help you through are to keep mementos to remind you of the person, don’t try and shut all proof of their existence out of your life. Don’t feel the need to be strong, it is okay to be vulnerable in these moments and to rely a little on others. When you need it, take time to be on your own and private but don’t isolate yourself. It is normal to think sometimes that you have seen your loved one on the street or imagine you have heard their voice, this is all part of the process of letting go.

Try to remember that the pain you are experiencing will lessen in time and that while you may continue to miss them, the intensity of the grief will diminish.

What can help?

Here are some things that might help ease your grief.

  • Write your loved one a letter expressing what you want to say.
  • Don’t compare yourself with others bereaved.
  • Ask for and accept help.
  • Feel free to protest the ‘why’ of death.
  • Accept your feelings.
  • Be patient with yourself. Let yourself feel the pain.
  • Take time to laugh and cry and be kind to yourself.
  • Try not to make life-changing decisions during the first year.

For additional help and suggestions: provides additional information and support, local services and suggested reading material.

If you are struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one or simply want to talk to someone, we can help. Visit our team page here to read about our mental health professionals, call us at 076 680 1060 or email to get your first appointment within 72 hours.

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