Loss is something that will affect us all at some point in our lives and grief is a natural response. The death of someone important to you - whether they are a family member, partner or friend, a beloved pet or even a public figure - can be overwhelming and you may experience a mixture of emotions.
Everyone responds to grief in their own way, depending on so many factors, including the relationship they had with the person who has died and their previous experiences of loss and grief.
It is important to remember that:
- Everyone’s experience of grief is different
- There is no right or wrong way to grieve
- It’s ok to ask for help
How do I grieve?
There is no rule book on how to grieve.
While everyone’s experience of grief is unique to them, there are common feelings and thoughts associated with the loss of another, including numbness, denial, yearning, searching, bargaining, anger, disorganisation, depression, despair, acceptance, relief and indifference. None of these come in a specific order, they can switch back and forth, be fleeting or long-lasting, and different life experiences can re-trigger old feelings and thoughts.
Part of grieving is accepting the reality of the loss, experiencing the pain of grief and adjusting to your new environment without the person you have lost. This is not an easy journey; it can feel raw, painful and debilitating at times. However ‘letting go’ is not denying or forgetting their existence, it is readjusting to a new ‘normal’ and continuing the bond with your special person in a new way.
When you are in grief, you have a lot to deal with; it might feel as if all aspects of your life are involved in your grieving. Your past and present can influence the way you grieve; how you learnt to handle loss in your family, and how your culture, religion and society expects you to respond to the current loss. Alongside this, there may be two aspects to you - the side wanting time to stand still, focusing and staying with your loss, against the side that wants to get on with everyday living, plus your hopes and dreams for the future.
Trying to balance all aspects of your individual experience is really hard; it can be a painful time and very confusing. It is ok to feel like this and to take all the time you need.
What if I don’t experience grief when someone dies?
Not everyone experiences grief when someone dies. Sometimes the death of a close friend or relative is a relief, especially if the person has suffered. Sometimes people don't begin to grieve until months or even years later.
Everyone’s circumstances are different. If at any point you find that it is hard to cope with what you are feeling, don't be afraid to get support.
Support with grief
If you're struggling with your thoughts and feelings, it is totally understandable. One of the most helpful actions you can take is to consider talking to someone you trust, be that someone you have a personal relationship with, a professional or a trained volunteer.
The following information, resources, services and organisations might also help:
- NHS support: The NHS provides information, advice and support for people experiencing grief from loss, bereavement and change
- Helpline: Cruse Bereavement Care offers support seven days a week from trained volunteers through its helpline and expert counsellors through its webchat service
- Online bereavement support: Sue Ryder offers information, advice, resources and an online bereavement community to help you cope with the practical and emotional aspects of grief
- Bereavement by suicide: Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) offers emotional and practical support and local groups for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide
- Losing your baby or child: Child Bereavement UK offers advice, support and a helpline for families who are grieving the loss of a baby or child of any age, while the NHS provides information about support services for those who have experienced the loss of a partner or child in pregnancy. If you’ve been affected by miscarriage, the Miscarriage Association has information, emotional and practical support
- Pet bereavement: If you are grieving for a pet, or facing loss, the Blue Cross runs a free and confidential Pet Bereavement Support Service by phone, email or webchat
- Coping with the death of a public figure: Sue Ryder offers expert advice for coping with the range of emotions that the death of a public figure can elicit
Our free text support service is there for moments when you are grieving and need support to get to a calmer place. Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258 to start a conversation with a trained Shout Volunteer any time of the day or night.
If your life is at imminent risk, please call 999 immediately.