Bereavement affects people in different ways, there’s no right or wrong way to feel. You might experience lots of emotions at once or nothing at all, one day you’re having a good day and the next you wake up and feel worse again. Powerful feelings can appear unexpectedly; “it’s like waves on a beach, you can be standing in water up to your knees and feel you can cope, then, suddenly a big wave comes and knocks you off your feet.”
It’s generally accepted there are four stages of bereavement:
Accepting the 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
Generally people go through all these stages, but not necessarily in the above order or moving smoothly from one to the next. Grief can feel chaotic and out of control but these feelings eventually become less intense.
Normal Symptoms of Grief
Shock and numbness or as if in a daze
Overwhelming sadness, sometimes with lots of crying
Tiredness or exhaustion
Anger towards the person who died, their illness or God
Guilt for feeling angry, for something you said or didn’t say, or for not saving your loved one
Overwhelm and inability to cope with everyday activities
Unable to get out of bed
No interest in looking after yourself or your family
Believing you can’t go on without the person you’ve lost
Experiencing emotions so intense they are affecting the rest of your life
Forgetfulness and struggling to concentrate
All the above is normal – as long as the symptoms don’t last for a long time – and are there because your mind is distracted by grief, you are not losing your sanity. The time to get help will vary from person to person, if the symptoms last for a period that you feel is too long or your family says they are worried about you, that’s the time to seek help.
What Can I Do To Help Myself?
It’s okay to talk about the person who has died. Talking and sharing your feelings with someone can help; you don’t need to go through this alone, for some people, relying on family and friends are ways to cope. You may need to help others help you; people may not talk about the person who has died because they don’t want to upset you. By inviting conversations and talking freely you can help break the silence and isolation.
Anniversaries and special occasions can be hard, do whatever you need to do to get through the day, perhaps you could: book the day off work; do something that reminds you of the person and celebrates their life; go for a favourite walk; plan to be in the company of a friend or relative.
Seeking Professional Help
Don’t allow the thought ‘I should be over this by now’ stop you from seeking help. You deserve to be happier, comfortable and able to cope. If this seems like you don’t have to suffer a moment longer, you can access counselling by calling me, Dawn Haworth, on 07818 840 841 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
What Sort of Issues have People Brought To Therapy?
Adjusting to retirement
Children moving away
Death of a loved one
End of relationship
Life changing illness or injury
Miscarriage or stillbirth
Separation or divorce