Losing someone close to you is an inevitable part of life – that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens, even if the death is expected. Often this is called "Bereavement".

Every loss is different, and bereavement can affect everyone in different ways. There are some feelings that are common after the death of someone close. You might experience:

  • Shock
  • Disbelief
  • Anxiety
  • Helplessness
  • Emptiness
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Guilt

You might have mixed feelings after a loss – this can be confusing. You can also have “physical symptoms” of grief or bereavement such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • More prone to illness/infection
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Aches and pains
  • Insomnia

Experiencing any of these things is normal. Nobody can tell you how to feel, and you can’t tell yourself how to feel - there is no way you “should” feel after a loss.

The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but the feelings of grief normally become less intense over time, and let you carry on with your life. It can be hard to imagine this in the early stages after a loss.

After a loss

You may have to deal with registering the death and organising a funeral – there is help and guidance about this online or you can speak to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for help. Some people find this process comforting, but others can find it stressful – do ask for help if you need it, or are not sure what to do.

It is important to look after yourself when someone close to you passes away, to help you manage and cope with grief. You can be affected by the death of friends, neighbours and colleagues just as much as family.

It may help to get support, e.g.  friends, family, a support group or therapist – somewhere you are comfortable sharing your feelings. Some people prefer to write about how they are feeling, or draw it. Connecting with others in any of these ways can really help - try to get out and stay in touch when you can.

Looking after your physical health is also important – eating well, getting enough sleep and staying active can all help you work through grief and stay well in yourself.

Bereavement can mean big changes in your life – learning new skills, feeling lonely,  helping others cope with their grief, or a feeling of emptiness if you have been a carer for the person who has died.

These changes can take a long time to get used to – give yourself time and space to get to know  your new role. Paying attention to how you are feeling can also help – this can change from day to day, or month to month – be kind to yourself, and give yourself time.

What if it doesn’t get better?

Sometimes the symptoms of grief and bereavement do not become less intense, or may seem to worsen - this is sometimes called Complicated Grief.  You may have some of these feelings:

  • Feel like life isn’t worth living.
  • Wish you had died with your loved one.
  • Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it.
  • Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks.
  • Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss.
  • Are unable to perform your normal daily activities.

If this happens to you, then you might need some help to work through your grief and feel better  – you could speak to your GP or Practice Nurse for professional help. They may direct you to a mental health professional if they think you need more support.