When we lose someone we love through death we often experience feelings of bereavement. All aspects of our lives and our emotional, physical and spiritual being may be affected. The most prevailing emotion is one of intense pain or grief.
“There is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.” Kubler Ross 2004.
The process of grieving takes a long time and does not follow a specific format, It often feels like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows.
Some thing we can do to cope with grief:
- Talk to family and friends
- Talk to a therapist / counsellor
- Join a support group
- Take comfort from your faith if you follow a religious tradition
- Avoid major changes in your life
- Write down your thoughts
- Look after yourself, exercise, eat well, rest and allow yourself to grieve.
click here for a list of organisations and charities which offer advice and support.
Many people find coping with bereaved family and friends an awkward and difficult time. Everyone knows the stories of people who would rather cross the street than face what they feel would be a potentially embarrassing conversation with someone who has recently been bereaved. Here are a few ways you can make a significant difference to someone grieving the loss of a loved one.
Make contact-It is very important to make contact as soon as possible. Send a letter or card and flowers if appropriate. Most bereaved people say that reading the letters and cards they receive provides valuable support and comfort.
Maintain contact-Keep the contact going with visits, phone calls and letters, particularly as the weeks and months pass by. Often levels of support can fall away and six months is recognised as being a particularly vulnerable time, as it is about this time that the reality of the loss hits home and yet others are assuming that by this stage people are over the worst.
Listen and let the bereaved person talk
-Talking is recognised as one of the most important elements in the grieving and healing process. Let the bereaved person talk about the person who has died and don’t be embarrassed by their tears and anger.
Talk about the person who has died
-Many bereaved people find it hurtful if the deceased is not mentioned, almost as if they had never existed. Remember happy times, things they liked or didn’t like, funny things they said. It all helps to keep the memories strong and bring some comfort.
Offer practical help
-Consider what practical support you can offer, such as making a cooked meal, taking care of the children, shopping or helping with any funeral arrangements. Don’t say ‘Give me a call if you need anything’, help needs to be freely given without the bereaved person having to ask for it. Make regular contact and make a date to have the bereaved person / family around for a coffee.
Be aware of significant dates and anniversaries
-Family times such as Christmas and birthdays as well as the anniversary of the death are a particularly difficult and traumatic time for the bereaved and need to be treated with sensitivity, particularly the first few times they come around.
Once adults tried to shield children from death, but modern day understanding is that avoidance is a recipe for disaster – especially for a child. Like all of us, children need to understand that death is a natural part of life, just as birth is and two charities in particular are very able to help children, parents and families through the grieving process with professional carers, helpful publications and activities.
- Waterbugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney – Continuum International Publishing Group – Mowbray / August 1997
Specially aimed at children, it helps to explain death through the analogy of the waterbug’s short life under water and their emergence as dragonflies as the human’s life after death.
Call A L & G Abbott 01234 843 222