Death, and the grief that accompanies this, will affect each and every one of us at some time in our lives. And yet we never seem to be prepared for it in the same way as we are prepared for birth. Of course it is something that we don’t want to happen while we will usually welcome birth.
Bereavement and what it means
The word bereavement is a term that covers the whole process associated with loss and grief as well as the state of having suffered a loss through death; our response to that loss while learning to live with the loss; and the pain of death. This process can be shorter or longer – it does not have a time limit – there are so many different factors involved. Bereavement is our experience of grief when someone close to us has died.
There is no set way of grieving. Different cultures and individuals will all have their own beliefs and ceremonies and this could even be governed by the way you have been brought up.
The emotional stages of grieving
These are common to all who suffer from grief:
– this is the usual first reaction in the early hours and days.
– after the numbness wears off, this feeling often takes its place so that you find it difficult to concentrate properly or to get a good night’s sleep.
– you may well feel angry with the medical staff, friends or relatives or even the person who has died.
– this is an obvious reaction that most people would go through.
– this is often an emotion felt when the person who died was suffering in any way.
– although you start to feel more peaceful at this stage, you can be sad at the same time.
– this is the period when you like to sit and think, to plan your future and come to terms with what has happened.
• Becoming whole again
– life is slowing returning to a more normal existence once more. You make plans and perhaps even try out new experiences.
• Letting go
– time has passed and even though you thought it would never happen, you are feeling less sad, you are sleeping better and life is starting to look good again.
Support at the time of bereavement
If you are finding it especially hard to come to terms with a death among your circle of friends or family, you might need some extra support. For example this link
lists many support groups which vary according to the type of loss that you have experienced. They also give you general help in coping with grief and loss. Here are some myths and facts that they express about grief:
MYTH – the pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact – trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
MYTH – It’s important to be strong in the face of loss.
Fact – feeling sad, frightened or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to protect your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
MYTH – if you don’t cry, it means you aren't sorry about the loss.
Fact – crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
MYTH – Grief should last about a year.
Fact – there is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.
Two of the most difficult of deaths to come to terms with are often the death of a child or a death by suicide. In the case of children this
is a helpful link. In the case of death by suicide, go to here
for help and support.
It may be that you have not suffered the loss of someone close to you but someone else has.
How can you help them at this time?
• Spend time with them so that they don’t feel quite so alone
• Let them cry on your shoulder if they need to
• Let them talk it through as much as they want to
• Never tell them to pull themselves together or that they have to be brave
• Give them the time they need to grieve
• Offer help wherever it is needed – this can be with practical things as well as emotional
• Remember to be supportive during those painful anniversaries
Bereavement can even affect your physical or mental health. Professional help may even be necessary if this is a likely outcome.