Resources for coping with bereavement
When someone close to us dies in whatever circumstances, bereavement, grief and loss can affect people in different ways. There's no right or wrong way to feel.
Some of the most common experiences include:
- shock and numbness – this is usually the first reaction to loss, and people often talk about "being in a daze"
- overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
- tiredness or exhaustion
- experiencing new sensations or aches in your body
- anger – towards the person you've lost or the reason for your loss
- guilt – for example, guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or did not say, or not being able to stop your loved one dying
These feelings may not be there all the time and powerful feelings may appear unexpectedly. It's not always easy to recognise when bereavement, grief or loss are the reason you're acting or feeling differently.
The Restoring Hope booklet provides more information about how you might feel following a bereavement.
Experts generally accept that we go through 4 phases of bereavement or grief:
- accepting that your loss is real
- experiencing the pain of grief
- adjusting to life without the person or thing you have lost
- putting less emotional energy into grieving and putting it into something new
Most people go through all these phases, but you will not necessarily move smoothly from one to the next.
Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control, but these feelings will eventually become less intense over time.
Tips for coping for bereaved children
- Get creative - write a poem or letter to your loved one who has died
- Make a memory box - gather together photos, letters and keepsakes from your loved one and put them in a special memory box that you can reopen and reminisce over when you need to
- Try to focus on the good times you share with your loved one
- Talk to people
- Take one day at a time
- It is OK to feel sad, angry, scared and to cry. It is also OK to feel happy and to enjoy things
- Remember that you are not alone, and that help is out there if you need it
Help for bereaved children
- Children's understanding of death at different ages video
- Apart of Me app: A place for young people to feel safe and hear stories of people who have had similar experiences following a bereavement.
Help with bereavement
- Talk about and share your feelings with a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor
- Contact a support organisation such as Cruse Bereavement Care or call 0808 808 1677
- Try the ways to feel happier, which are simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope
- Manage your stress levels through regular exercise and breathing exercises
- Do things you enjoy
- Treat yourself as a valued friend and keep telling yourself positive things about you
- Keep healthy: limit alcohol, exercise, eat a balanced diet
- How to get to sleep if you're struggling
- Self-help guides:
- Unmind offers free access to NHS staff during Covid-19 crisis
- Virtual bereavement meet-ups
- Specialist Filipino bereavement support service
- Bereavement Support Line (Telephone: 0300 303 4434) - Hospice UK are operating a free bereavement support line which can be accessed from 8:00am – 8:00pm, seven days a week. A team of fully qualified and trained bereavement specialists are available to support you with bereavement and wellbeing issues relating to loss experienced through your work. You will be offered up to 3 sessions with the same counsellor and onward support to our staff mental health services if you need.
- The British Psychological Society Covid-19 bereavement task force has produced a document on helping one another to cope with death and grief, at a time when many people are experiencing the loss of a friend or family member due to the Covid-19 pandemic: Supporting yourself and others: coping with death and grief
- This webinar talks about grief and loss in the context of COVID-19 and how to make new meaning: COVID-19: Grief, Loss of the Assumptive World and Meaning-Making