When you are first bereaved you may be overwhelmed by your emotions, or you may have a natural tendency to avoid your feelings and react in a more controlled way to your loss.
Coping with your grief will mean trying to find a balance between your emotions and managing practical day to day life. This can be especially hard if you are dealing with other pressures such as caring for your children; dealing with financial, employment or housing worries; or facing physical or mental health issues of your own.
Bereavement brings a number of different losses:
- The loss of the person and the relationship you had with them.
- The loss of the role you had as carer and the purpose and identity this gave you.
- The loss of, or disconnection from, some the things you may have given up or lost while you were a carer. This could include losing touch with friends or work.
Dealing with other people’s grief
When the person you care for dies you may feel that other people don’t have as much reason to grieve as you, but family and friends will feel the loss too. It can be difficult when people around you react and cope with loss in different ways but there are no right and wrong ways to grieve.
If you do cope with loss differently from the people around you try to be patient, and talk to them about these differences if you can.
Being resilient and coping well
Coping well (being resilient) is not about forgetting the person you have lost or the pain of grief going away. It is about finding a way to live with the loss, and adjust to the changes this has brought.
Don’t isolate yourself
The support you get from your family, friends and neighbours may help you find new meaning in this life changing experience you have had. Make sure you talk to people and don’t cut yourself off.
Your friends and family probably want to support you but may not know how to do this. Try to accept help when it is offered, even if this is just enjoying a meal that someone else has made for you.
If you are already part of a local carer group carry on going and talk to them about how you are feeling if you can. There may also be a local groups for former carers that you may find supportive. Many local carer services will continue to help you after you stop caring, particularly while you are adjusting.
If you need additional support then there is specialist help available, including specialist support for children.
Children and bereavement
There is specialist help available for children and young people coping with bereavement.
- Child Bereavement UK has online information for young people who've lost someone close.
- Winston's Wish offers practical support and guidance to bereaved children, their families and professionals.
- Cruse supports children and young people.
If you are worried that a child is not coping with grief talk to their GP about getting them suitable support.
Organisations offering bereavement support
There are organisations that may be able to help you with practical information, support groups or one-to-one care. Or they may offer counselling:
- Bereavement Advice Centre has a free helpline and web-based information about what to do when someone dies. This includes information about coping with grief.
- Cruse (Cruse Bereavement Care) can support you after the death of someone close. They also offer face-to-face and group support in local branches across the UK.
- Dying Matters helps people in England and Wales to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life
- Widowed and young (WAY) supports men and women aged 50 or under when their partner died.
- Sue Ryder Online Community. If someone you care for is dying or has died, the Sue Ryder online community is a place to share experiences, get things off your chest, ask questions and chat to people who understand.
- Macmillan has a wide range of advice for carers about bereavement. This includes information about how grief might affect you, picking up your life again, and celebrating the life of your loved one.
- The NHS website offers support about coping with bereavement.
You can also talk to your GP about how you are feeling, particularly if you feel you aren’t coping. They will be able to offer you advice and support.
- What to do after someone dies on Gov.uk.
Thanks to Dr Linda Machin (Honorary Research Fellow in the Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences at Keele University) for helping us write this page.
Next review due: February 2020