Dealing with grief and loss

Grieving is a natural process that takes time

It’s natural to grieve when you lose someone you care about. Grief affects people in different ways. Factors such as your upbringing, beliefs or religion, your age and health can all influence how you grieve.

The healing process can be long and challenging - it will take time before the pain lessens and you begin to adjust to life without the person who has died.

Experts talk about different stages of grief and loss. In her 1969 book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified 5 stages. These do not necessarily occur in any specific order, and you might not experience all of them: 

1: Denial

It’s impossible to predict how you’ll respond to the loss of a loved one, but denial is a common initial reaction. “This can’t be true” is a perfectly normal defence mechanism to reduce the immediate impact of loss. 

2: Anger

As denial fades, you may feel angry. This can manifest itself in different ways, even anger towards the person who has died for ‘leaving you behind’.  Feelings like these are a natural and common part of the grieving process.

3: Bargaining

Our minds often try to regain control over a feeling of helplessness by running through ‘if only’ scenarios: if only we had seen the doctor earlier; if only we hadn’t argued before they left the house etc. This ‘bargaining’ is an attempt to protect us from pain and is often accompanied by feelings of guilt. 

4: Depression

You may feel depressed about the practical aspects of a death, such as the financial implications or funeral arrangements. And you may start to feel a deeper sense of loss as you prepare to separate and say goodbye to the person who has died.   

5: Acceptance

There’s no instant fix for coping with grief and loss. You might feel affected every day for about a year to 18 months after a major loss. But after this time the grief is less likely to be at the forefront of your mind. 

Coping with loss can be challenging, but there are practical things you can do to help:

  • Talk to a friend, family member or counsellor - this is a good way to express yourself and soothe painful emotions
  • Give yourself permission to feel sad – it’s is a natural and healthy part of the grieving process
  • Keep to your routine – doing simple things like the housework or weekly shopping can help
  • Eat healthily – a well-balanced diet can help your mood
  • Avoid numbing the pain – things such as alcohol will make you feel worse once the effects wear off
  • Seek help from a counsellor if it feels right for you – this may be useful after a couple of weeks or months 

The funeral can be an important part of the grieving process, celebrating the life lived whilst acknowledging the loss and providing closure. But arranging a loved one’s funeral can seem like a daunting task. It’s never easy facing choices and making decisions at a time when you’re feeling lots of different emotions. At WR Bettelley’s, we’ll be with you each step of the way. In the days and weeks after losing a loved one, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. That’s why we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whenever you need somebody to talk to, we’ll be there for you.

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