Jane, our Counselling and Bereavement Services Manager, blogs on the immediate feelings after losing a loved one.
“Most of us will at some point in our lives experience the death of someone close to us. It can be the most devastating and overwhelming experience that will ever happen to us.
Grief is a natural reaction to loss and each person has their own unique and individual experience. There is no ‘right’ way to grieve. You may experience going through many different feelings or you find your thoughts and concentration fluctuate, leaving you feeling confused. You may feel some immediate relief.
There can be good days and bad days and ups and downs. This is a normal response to your loss.
I don’t believe he’s gone… I can still hear him… I can still see him…
Even when you have known for some time that someone is going to die, there is still a sense of shock and disbelief when the death occurs. You may feel cold, numb and unreal for a time and have trouble believing that he or she is really dead and is not coming back. This feeling of shock usually starts to fade in a few days or weeks, although it might come back from time to time. You might feel that you can hear or see the person who has died. You may have vivid dreams or pictures of them in your mind, particularly of the last few days and weeks of their life. Some of your dreams may be disturbing as your mind tries to take in what has happened. All these feelings, while not being the same for everyone, are normal and don’t mean you are losing your mind.
I don’t seem to be able to settle down to do anything, yet there is so much that needs doing…
You may well find this is a confusing time. It can be difficult to concentrate on anything and even simple tasks may seem an effort. You may find yourself staring aimlessly through the window sensing you have lost something and suddenly have a new realisation that he or she is dead. And sometimes you may feel that life has no meaning anymore and ask yourself ‘What’s the point?’. When someone you have loved dies it’s normal to question what life is all about. Some people find themselves having strong spiritual experiences and others can find they have lost all faith.
I don’t feel well…
Grief can be exhausting. You may feel unusually tired and low, yet not be able to sleep. Your appetite and enjoyment of food may temporarily disappear. It’s important to look after yourself and to try to eat and drink regularly in order to keep up your energy. Bereavement can be a big shock on many levels and it’s not uncommon for people to be susceptible to minor infections or illnesses and need to visit their GP. Grief can be a very stressful time.
I think I am going mad…
Grief can release intense and strong and unfamiliar emotions, perhaps more than you have felt before and you can feel as if these emotions are taking over. You may feel like you are going mad and find that you may feel or act differently from usual. This is normal but can be alarming if you are someone who is usually calm and in control. It may be tempting to want to rid yourself of these unwelcome emotions by keeping busy or doing something radical like moving house or clearing out the possessions of the person who has died. This is not the best time to make major changes in your life. What seems right now may not seem right in several months.
If you have to make important decisions it can help to talk them over with an experienced person who you trust and who can help you consider the various options and gain some support.
Look after yourself
The grief you are facing may be the hardest thing you have ever gone through but there is always something you can do to help yourself through the dark times. Read myand make sure you help yourself in this dark time.
During a lengthy illness, following the funeral, or sometimes long after the death of a loved one grief may become more than you are able or willing to handle. There are services and support which can help you through this time.
Useful Services and information:
Cruse Bereavement Service
Winston’s Wish has a wealth of resources and advice on how to support your child through bereavement, whilst also dealing with your own grief. They also have a free phone helpline you can call.
Childhood Bereavement UK
Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.