It’s one of those sad issues that we all must face at some point in our lives. Leaving this earthly domain is one of the few certainties in life. It is a terrible time when emotions come to the fore and take over our lives, often to the point where we simply do not feel as though we want to move forward.
When we grieve, we are grieving for ourselves – it’s we that are feeling the pain, the loss, the emptiness that has been left behind. Experts generally accept there are four stages of bereavement:
- accepting that your loss is real
- experiencing the pain of grief
- adjusting to life without the person who has passed away
- putting your emotional energy into something new and moving on
You will perhaps go through all these stages, but you won't automatically move from one stage to the next. Your grief might feel messy and out of control, but these feelings should normally, in due course, become less intense.
You may need expert help if you:
- You feel you do not want to get out of bed
- You neglect yourself or other members of your family
- You are not eating properly
- You feel you that you simply cannot go on without the person you have lost
- Emotions are so strong they are affecting the rest of your life
- You cannot face going to work or you are taking your anger out on someone else
These feelings are natural and completely normal providing they don't last for any extended length of time.
Someone who YOU depended on and have lost can be overwhelming. It can be a parent or partner - who will you turn to now for help? Who will help you fill your days? Who will look after you? Losing someone close is distressing and the pain felt can be crushing and intense.
Sometimes it can often be more difficult when you have been a full-time carer to the one you have lost. Your days will have been filled with looking after that person, making sure that they were clean, dressed, fed and entertained. You will have probably looked after all their interests including their finances. Anyone who has been in this position will feel a vacuum when they lose that person – what on earth do you do to fill in all this time you now have on your hands?
If you are finding it difficult to move forward, then you may need bereavement counselling. Don’t be put off in seeking this help, it is more helpful than you may believe. I sought counselling when my Mother passed away, but not until several months later; I wish I had done so sooner as it would have help me come to terms with my loss a lot quicker. Counselling was not what I thought it would be. The counsellor is there to listen to you, to offer you ways of looking at things that you may never have thought of.
Your GP or a bereavement counsellor can help if you feel you're not coping. Some people can also get support from:
- A Religious Minister
- Local Council
- Funeral Director
- A Local Hospice
A good first place to start is asking your doctor if they have a bereavement counsellor in their practice or if they can point you in the right direction towards a bereavement counselling group in your area. If you feel awkward about speaking to your doctor have a look at this website as a starting point:
It’s OK to cry, never be afraid to cry; it is nature's release for overpowering emotions. I often refer to an old Native American Indian proverb “The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes could shed no tears” so think of your tears as the rainbow for your soul that you are sharing with your lost loved one.
Do try to fill your days with things that make you happy and that are of interest to you. Do things that you perhaps felt unable to do whilst the person you have lost was here. It can be a very lonely place when you are grieving, so do your best to surround yourself with other people you love, friends and family. Always remember that the person you lost would not be happy if they knew you were drowning in grief, so you owe it to their memory and to yourself to move on and make the best of your life. Some people start fundraising to help others who may be suffering from an illness that took your loved one from you. Other people volunteer to help with organisations that may have helped your loved one. There are many ways to dedicate yourself to helping others - helping others can often be viewed as helping yourself and can be a great healing element.
A good point to remember if you are attempting to console someone who is trying to cope with a bereavement, never say to them “I know how you feel” – you cannot possibly know how they feel. You may ‘understand’ how they feel if you have gone through bereavements yourself, but we all take this massive hit in different ways and you cannot possibly ‘know’ how that person feels. What you can do is always be there when needed and never criticise or tell them to “Pull yourself together”. Everyone is different, and everyone needs to be handled differently; you can help just by being there when they need you and not being there when they tell you they wish to be alone (for a time).
Later, when you have accepted your loss and can think more clearly, it can be a good idea to have a memorial service for your loved one. It’s a means of expressing what you felt, and continue to feel, about the one you have lost. I did this for my mother and it was a fantastic event – people were telephoning me the next day asking if I was going to have another one; that was a wonderful experience and it allowed me to say a final goodbye with dignity and respect and love. Obviously, this is something for the individual to ponder on as it may not be for everyone, but it can be a wonderful release.
If you have just lost someone and would like to unload, you can use the forums on this site to express your feelings. It’s totally anonymous and you will not be judged in any way by other members. If this is your first loss you may feel better by talking to strangers anonymously than talking to others who are close to you – by doing this, it may help you to ‘open up’ to those who ‘are’ close to you. There is no shame in grief – it simply illustrates that you are human and that you have a heart that feels as much hurt as anyone else. I hope that you find comfort in knowing that this is something that everyone will experience at some point in their lives and that you are not and never will be alone.