We experience bereavement when faced with the loss of someone significant in our lives. Dealing with loss is a deeply personal journey, and there’s no fixed way or timeline for navigating through it.
Losing a loved one, be it a partner, family member, friend, or even a cherished pet, can feel emotionally overwhelming. It’s important to note that grief is subjective, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to coping with it.
Moreover, grief isn’t limited to the loss of a person; it can also arise from other life changes like the end of a relationship, job loss, relocation, or the declining health of a loved one.
In this blog, we talk with bereavement counsellors who have a lot of experience with the diverse emotions people may encounter during grief. Additionally, we explore strategies to support your wellbeing. It can be a tough time and people can choose to try the following tips at their own pace, whenever they feel ready, recognising that these suggestions may be beneficial for some but not necessarily for everyone.
Stages of grief
Grief is not linear. Some people may experience grief in stages or as a cycle.
These could be:
- Denial – Feelings of shock, disbelief, panic, or confusion are common here. Questions like “How could this happen?” or “It can’t be true” may arise.
- Anger –This stage may involve self-blame, blaming others, or feelings of hostility. Common thoughts include “Why me?” and “This isn’t fair.”
- Depression – Feeling tired, hopeless, helpless, isolated, like you have lost perspective, or need to be around others You might find yourself thinking, “Everything is a struggle” or “What’s the point?”
- Bargaining – Often accompanied by guilt, this stage leads to questions like “If only I had done more” or “If I had only been…”
- Acceptance –This doesn’t necessarily mean embracing the situation as right or fair. Instead, it involves acknowledging the loss’s implications and the new circumstances, preparing to move forward in a different direction.
It’s important to understand that these stages don’t follow a fixed order for everyone. Some people may experience certain stages but not others. Moving back and forth through these stages at your own pace is common, as is experiencing grief outside of this cycle entirely. Grief affects each person uniquely, and there is no universally “normal” way to grieve.
What does grief look like and what can we experience?
It’s understandable that you might:
- Cry all the time / Not be able to cry
- Feel pain
- Experience anxiety
- Feel guilty
- Have physical feelings of illness
- Feel depressed
- Frequently remember the person’s face or voice
- Feel in shock or numb
- Be angry
- Not want to eat or eat more than usual
- Go over every detail of their death
Things you can try to help with bereavement, grief and loss
If you’re going through difficult times, these things may help you to find a quieter moment.
- Connect with others: try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor – you could also contact a support organisation
- Familiarise yourself with the grief cycle and remember bereavement grief and loss affect people in different ways – there’s no right or wrong way to feel
- Take each day at a time. There may be good days and bad days, so focus on each day at a time.
- Consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other
- Develop coping strategies that work for you and discover your triggers. Mindfulness techniques or mood Diary apps such as Mood Panda can help, whilst journaling/diary writing can also help make sense of emotions
- Fresh air: walking and nature are helpful when grieving and can also increase sleep quality
These may not be helpful:
- Trying to do everything at once – set small targets that you can easily achieve
- Focusing on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy on helping yourself feel better
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve grief – these can all contribute to poor mental health
Counselling offers the opportunity to be listened to and can help people work through what has happened, cope with the initial phase of shock and find coping strategies.
Interested in counselling with Platfform Wellbeing?
The first step is to book an assessment. Following this first initial appointment, we will pair you with a counsellor best suited to your needs. We want to get it right for you so that you have a good relationship and experience, which will help you to achieve your goals.
Not ready for counselling?
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