Everyone copes with grief in their own way, but there does seem to be stages that people go through. It can be helpful to be aware of these. We tend not to talk about death in our society – but it is something that everyone will experience.
In the first hours and days, people often have a sense of unreality. This detached feeling can help them cope with the immediate shock. Sometimes it is not until some days after the funeral that the reality of what has happened sinks in. However, if this disconnected feeling goes on too long, it can be pretty damaging.
This sense of emotional detachment is often followed by a feeling of great agitation and yearning, which can affect everyday life. It may be difficult to relax, concentrate or even sleep properly.
Some people experience anger – towards doctors or hospitals for not preventing the death. Sometimes anger is directed at close family and friends or even towards the person who has left them.
It is also common to feel guilty for all sorts of reasons, including having experienced a sense of relief if the person had a distressing illness.
Anniversaries and celebrations can be painful reminders, but the adage “time is a great healer” is true for most people.
It is important not to rush into major life changes for some time after a death. However, it’s good to make plans and do life-affirming things that you enjoy, such as hobbies, studying, outings and time spent with family and friends.
There is no standard time it takes to grieve, but if you feel stuck and can’t move on, it’s vital to get help. Depression is a typical symptom of grief, but there is plenty of support available. Some organisations are listed at the end of this booklet, but a good starting point is your family doctor.
The first stop for people coping with grief should be the family doctor. They can also refer you to local counselling services or support groups if you need some extra help.
The bereaved need to talk and cry without being told to pull themselves together. People shouldn’t feel awkward about mentioning the deceased. Additionally, if the grieving person keeps going over and over the same ground, remember this is a natural part of coming to terms with death. Reach out to trusted family and friends if you need to talk things over. People will want to support you and you’d do the same for them.
Even very young children grieve the loss of a loved one, though children generally can’t explain or understand death until they are four or five years old.
Children experience the passing of time differently, therefore, they may seem to overcome grief quite quickly. But they do need to be reassured that they are not in any way to blame. It is quite common for them to feel they are. Sometimes they might not want to talk to their surviving parent, not wishing to add to their grief. It will be helpful if someone is specifically asked to support them through this period.
Floyd & Son have a booklet to help answer children’s questions about death. Feel free to contact us should you require a copy.
Director: D A Floyd, Registered office: Aaron House, 8 Hainault, Business Park,
Forest Road, Hainault, Essex IG6 3LP, Company number 07620815