The most important thing to remember about grief is that everyone experiences it differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, you just need to do what feels right for you.
There is a large range of emotions people may feel when grieving, including anger, hopelessness, sadness, resentment. You may feel all of these things, or you might not feel any. These feelings can be constant, or they may come and go in bursts.
Some people may have a delayed response to grief, feeling normal or numb at first, then start to feel the emotions later on, when they have processed the bereavement.
If the person who passed away had been suffering, or if the bereaved had a complicated relationship with them, they may feel relief. This is completely natural, and the bereaved should not feel guilty or ashamed for feeling this way. It doesn't mean that they didn't care for the person who has died, or that they are a bad person.
Many people ask how long it takes for grief to subside, but again this is different for everyone. There's no set time frame, and no easy fix for grief. You need to experience the grief in order to move through it. It may never go away completely - when you lose someone you love, your life may change, for example if it was someone you saw regularly. You will need to adjust your routine to learn to live without them. Many people find that their grief will resurface on significant dates such as anniversaries or birthdays, or in certain places.
Ways to cope with grief
Here are a few ways to help you cope with grief:
- Talk to friends, family or health professionals about how you are feeling, or about your loved one. This will help you to process your emotions, and it may even make you feel better to reminisce about the person who has passed away.
- Remind yourself of happy times with your loved one - look at photos, write down memories, you could even make a scrapbook.
- Let yourself feel your emotions, don't try to bottle them up or numb the pain. It will just make it worse when you eventually feel it.
- Try to keep to your routine as much as possible. Go to work, school, even doing the housework may make you feel better, as it gives you a sense of normality.
- Make sure you look after yourself - get enough sleep, eat healthily.
- If you feel it will benefit you, go to counselling - it is not weakness to feel like you need some help.
- If the grief tends to resurface at specific times like birthdays, create a new tradition like visiting your loved one's grave or where their ashes were scattered, or by going somewhere they used to love to remember them.
When to seek professional help
Seek professional help if any of the following applies to you:
- You do not feel able to cope with your feelings or daily life, and feel overwhelmed by simple tasks
- You do not start to feel better after time, or if you start to feel worse
- You have symptoms of depression or anxiety
- Your relationships are suffering
- You feel you may be a danger to yourself or others around you
You can go to your GP, or call NHS 111 to speak to a medical professional.
There are also several charities you can contact, the Good Grief Trust has a list of phone numbers and charities at the bottom of their home page at https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/