Bereavement Information

When someone you love dies…

We hope the information on these pages provides a bit of comfort

When somebody loses a loved one, it is usually very difficult and trying time. The emotions you are going through are probably quite normal. Often, people think they’re going mad or crazy because they either see things or can’t quite get their ‘head’ straight. One moment, you may be thinking that you’re fine and doing okay and then at another moment, unexpectedly, you might find yourself in floods of tears. All of this is quite normal. The important thing is not to question how you feel but to allow it simply to be.

At the bottom of this page, you will find a list of local organisations that offer free Bereavement Support. Please don’t hesitate to call them. But before you do, please continue reading this page (in which we hope you find some comfort).

The Normal Grief Reaction

The following is a list of things commonly experienced by people who have lost a loved one. These are quite NORMAL and they will soon disappear. None of them mean that you are going mad. And many are often out of proportion (like guilt or anger). Try not to be too preoccupied by them – don’t obstruct them, just let them happen. There’s no right way of coping with a death – people respond to a loss in their own individual way.

· Preoccupation with thoughts of the dead person leading to tearfulness and to insomnia.

· Visual phenomena Illusions of seeing the dead person and pseudo hallucination visual, auditory and physical.

· Yearning

· Anger

· Guilt

· Poor concentration

· Indecision and Restlessness. There may be periods of being able to concentrate and perform quite well amongst periods of haziness and indecision.

· Forgetfulness

· Fatigue

· Searching – knowing that the person is dead but going hopefully to places where the would have been.

A bit more about the grief reaction

People who experience bereavement often wonder whether they are depressed. Most of the time, they are not – instead, what they are experiencing is a grief reaction – where one’s mood is expected to be low. You may find comfort in knowing that most people manage to carry on with their lives a few months after a loved one has passed on. Grief usually passes through three stages, but these stages are not separate, nor do they necessarily follow in sequence.

· An initial stage of shock or disbelief when it is difficult to believe that the death has occurred. This stage may last minutes or weeks.

· A stage of acute anguish or anger that usually lasts from weeks to months when feelings of depression occur. Planning the future may be difficult.

· A phase of resolution after months, or even years.

It can take between 6 months to 1 year to go through these three stages. The average is probably around 6 months.

How can I tell if I am depressed?

Although most bereaved people are not depressed, around one third (30%) can be. Symptoms that suggest a bereaved person is also depressed include:

· intense feelings of guilt not related to the bereavement

· thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying

· feelings of worthlessness

· markedly slow speech and movements, lying in bed doing nothing all day

· prolonged or severe inability to function (not able to work, socialise or enjoy any leisure activity)

· prolonged hallucinations of the deceased, or hallucinations unrelated to the bereavement.

Please see your GP as soon as possible if you feel this is you.

When should I go to see my GP?

It takes on average 6 months for a person to get through a bereavement. In some circumstances, people get stuck in their bereavement journey, and it is in these cases where they may need a doctor to help them move on.

See your GP within a week if any of these apply…

You should go and see your doctor EARLY (i.e. within 2 weeks of the death) if

· Your loved one died a sudden or unexpected death

· Your loved one died a painful, stormy or horrible death

· You have experienced multiple losses recently

· You feel you cannot carry on living without your loved one.

· There is no one else at home who lives with you.

· You have other life crises – financial, job loss, house being repossessed etc

· You have already been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, panic disorder or any other mental health illness.

The following worrying features of depression would further indicate that you need to see a GP.

· intense feelings of guilt not related to the bereavement

· thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying

· feelings of worthlessness

· markedly slow speech and movements, lying in bed doing nothing all day

· prolonged or severe inability to function (not able to work, socialise or enjoy any leisure activity)

· prolonged hallucinations of the deceased, or hallucinations unrelated to the bereavement.

What can I do to help myself?

· The support of family and friends is invaluable to anyone – especially at difficult times. So make sure you are surrounded by other loved ones. Sadness after bereavement is natural: it’s normal to want to discuss the deceased and become upset while doing so. Expressing feeling does not make things worse. So, make sure you have pictures of your loved one around your house and pluck up the courage to discuss the good times.

· Try not to dwell on the bad times. All relationships have ups and downs and focussing on the downs does nothing but harm you. Besides, your loved one probably wouldn’t have wanted you to focus on the bad times either. Surely they’d want you to remember them in a positive light.

· Sometimes, you may feel your brain is focused and your body quite productive. At other times, you may feel quite hazy, indecisive and not be able to do much physically at all. This is absolutely normal. Try not to get frustrated – just let your body do its thing. Go with the flow.

Be in the moment

Instead of analysing or questioning the way you feel, accept those feelings and let them be. Remember, one moment you may be okay and the next you may not. All of this is okay.

Express feelings

Talk about your loved one to others. There may be feelings around anger, guilt, anxiety, helplessness and sadness. Talk them through. And if it makes you cry or be angry, let it.

Don’t dwell on the bad times

All relationships have their ups and downs. Try to focus on the good times.

Bereavement Counselling

Please consider getting in touch with a Bereavement Support Service (CRUSE), even if you think you are doing okay. Just give them a go.

Bereavement Support Services

Grief or Bereavement counselling helps mourning by allowing someone to work through the stages of grief in a supported relationship. So, look up some of the the organisations we have listed below – even if you think you are doing okay. The goals of grief counselling include:

· accepting the loss and talking about it

· identifying and expressing feelings related to the loss (anger, guilt, anxiety, helplessness, sadness)

· living without the deceased and making decisions alone

· separating emotionally and forming new relationships

· the provision of support

· identifying ways of coping that suit the bereaved. Explaining the grieving process.

Contact Details

· Coventry City Council Bereavement Information and Services – website

· CRUSE Bereavement Support
Anyone can contact CRUSE if they want to talk about themselves. 02476 670714
Young person’s helpline Freephone 0808 808 1677

· IAPT Bereavement Counselling Support – website
02476 671 090

· Gingerbread Bereavement Support for Single Parent Families – website
0808 802 0925

· Marie Curie Bereavement Support Centre – website
0800 090 2309

· Macmillan Cancer Bereavment Support – website
0808 808 00 00

· MIND Bereavment Support – website
02476 224 417

· Myton Hospice Bereavment Support Helping you through Bereavement Leaflet
01926 492 518

· NHS Bereavment Information – website

· UHCW Bereavment Services
02476 965 834