Six Steps to dealing with bereavement

six steps to coping with bereavementBereavement is often closed subject

Bereavement or loss is something that we all face at some time in our lives. This can be through the death of someone we are close to or our loss of health or job or a miscarriage. As it is a subject that is not often openly talked about, we have little opportunity to learn about death or loss. We only begin to understand how people are affected by grief, when we are faced with it. Often when people are grieving they will feel isolated. The can feel like they are the only one that feels the way they do and it can seem difficult to know what is ‘normal’. In addition families and friends do not know how to respond or deal with the bereaved.

Immediate Emotions

After a death or loss, people will experience a mixture of emotions. Often shock is the first emotion followed by feeling numb, tearful, difficulty in sleeping and a feeling of anxiety. This in turn may turn into anger. The anger may be directed at the person who died or close relatives. Everyone experiences grief differently. Some will learn to cope in their own way whereas others feel they are unable to cope with anything and need lots of practical help and support.  They find themselves feeling depressed, feeling tired and very weepy.

Bereavement is a long journey

Coming to terms with bereavement takes a long time. Some people find they are able to move on with their life one or two years after the death of a close relative or friend. However, for others it can remain difficult to move on. What is important is finding ways of coping with every day things.  You should not feel guilty for learning to cope and start to rebuild your life.

Here are six steps you can take to help you cope with adjusting to every day life after bereavement:

  1. Take your time to make major changes in your life until you have had time to adjust to the death. For example, moving home or changing jobs. If you make the rush decision, you may regret it later. You may wish to talk it over with friends and families. You could try writing down the changes you wish to make and look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  2. Look after your health. When are you feeling low or depressed you may be more prone to illness and find you comfort eat. It would be helpful to your overall wellbeing if you eat well, rest properly, exercise and keep to a routine. Keeping to a routine will help ensure that you keep active and stay in contact with other people. It is recommended that you stay away from alcohol over this difficult time as alcohol is a depressant.
  3. Talk to people about how you feel. Talking how you feel and talking about the deceased person is part of the grieving process. Don’t worry if you keep saying the same thing. It is important you process these thoughts and feelings. Hopefully you will have friends and family that you can talk to. However, if you feel you have no-one to speak to contact your Doctor who can refer you to a counsellor. Alternatively you can find a counsellor through various counselling directories, such as counselling directory and counselling pages. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
  4. Try to keep up contacts and friendships. You may feel that you don’t want to go out. However, meeting up for coffee or a small walk with a friend could be beneficial to you. It will help you make small steps to being out with people and ensuring you have something to look forward too.
  5. The first couple of years the anniversary dates, such as birthdays, wedding anniversary, death date are difficult to cope with and can seem unbearable days. It is best to plan these days. This will help you decide how it is best for you to spend these emotional days. You may want to be with people or be somewhere special.
  6. Try writing therapy. This may be in the form of a letter to the deceased person or a diary exploring your feelings. For more on this, have a look at writing a letter to a deceased friend or relative.

The following organisations offer assistance with different types of bereavement. Click on the link for more information.

SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide) 

Compassionate Friends (Support for parents following the death of a child at any age) 

Sands, Stillbirth and neonatal charity.

Cruse, Bereavement care charity 

Winston Wish – Charity for bereaved children 

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Hazel Hill has a private supervision and counselling practice in Sheffield. As well as having a private Sheffield and online practice, her clinical experience includes working for IAPT, EAP's affiliate work, and charity. Hazel specialises in workplace counselling, bereavement, anxiety and depression and outdoors counselling. You can contact her on 07814 363855

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