Bereavement and Grief

What is bereavement?

Read on for information about bereavement and where to find support, as well as how to cope with grief.

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What is bereavement?
What is bereavement?

What is bereavement?

Bereavement refers to when we experience the death or loss of someone important to us, and the thoughts and feelings we have during this process are often referred to as grief or grieving.

While we all experience bereavement at some point in our lives, it can bring up different thoughts and feelings in everyone.

The loss we feel may be sudden, or it could be something we have been expecting for a while. We may experience the loss of a family member, friend, or pet, or we may be grieving the end or change of a relationship.

We may also feel grief because we have lost social contact (perhaps as a result of COVID-19 restrictions), or due to losing a sense of meaning or purpose within our lives.  

How can loss or bereavement affect me?

Loss can cause a range of emotions, and there’s no right or wrong way to feel. Some common feelings can include:

  • Shock or numbness
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Tiredness or exhaustion
  • Anger
  • Loneliness
  • Relief or a sense of calm
  • Guilt or shame
  • Confusion
  • Fear or anxious feelings

Whether you are experiencing all of the above, or none of those feelings resonate with you, remember that it’s OK to feel however you are feeling.

How can loss or bereavement affect me?

Is bereavement impacting my life?

Bereavement can affect both our mental and physical health, and the impact it has on our lives can vary depending on a number of factors.

Some physical effects can include disrupted sleep, difficulty concentrating, or a change in appetite (e.g. eating more or less than usual).

Many of us experience feeling low following a bereavement, and it’s normal for this to happen. However, some of us will experience complex and prolonged grief, and may feel stuck in this grief. If your grief is preventing you from living your day-to-day life, you may want to seek further support. 

Do you relate to any of the following?

If you have been experiencing any of the above for at least two weeks, you may be affected by depression. You can find out more by clicking 'More', or you may want to speak to your GP for further support. If you are having suicidal thoughts or are worried about your safety, click 'Get Help Now' at the top of this screen. More
If you have been experiencing any of the above for at least two weeks, you may be affected by depression. You can find out more by clicking 'More', or you may want to speak to your GP for further support. If you are having suicidal thoughts or are worried about your safety, click 'Get Help Now' at the top of this screen. More
If you have been experiencing any of the above for at least two weeks, you may be affected by depression. You can find out more by clicking 'More', or you may want to speak to your GP for further support. If you are having suicidal thoughts or are worried about your safety, click 'Get Help Now' at the top of this screen. More
If you have been experiencing any of the above for at least two weeks, you may be affected by depression. You can find out more by clicking 'More', or you may want to speak to your GP for further support. If you are having suicidal thoughts or are worried about your safety, click 'Get Help Now' at the top of this screen. More

You are not alone...

Grief is a difficult and complicated emotion, and it's OK to feel how you're feeling. Watch this video to hear from others about their experience of bereavement and grief, and what helped them to cope during this time.

How can I cope with grief?

Remember that whatever you are feeling is valid, and we all grieve in different ways. Read on for tips about coping with loss and where to find support.

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How can I cope with grief?
Stay connected

Stay connected

Some of us may feel lonely or more isolated following a bereavement, and it can be tempting to withdraw from others while grieving. Keeping in touch with loved ones or reaching out to someone you trust, such as a friend or a professional, can help you feel more connected and remind you that you are not alone.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your loss, that’s OK. You can still stay in touch with people you care about by speaking about other things, or doing activities together such as exercise or something creative. 

Alternatively, if you’d like to talk with people who have had similar experiences, joining a support group can help by providing a safe place to talk about your loss.

If you feel unable to connect or don’t feel you have someone to talk to, you might want to look at our section on Loneliness for further support.

Think about how to say goodbye

Think about how to say goodbye

Saying goodbye can be painful and it may be difficult to think about doing this, perhaps because this would mean the person is really ‘gone’ from your life. It’s OK to feel this way; there are many ways that you can remember the person and keep them as part of your life.

Some may find that attending a funeral or memorial service is a helpful way for them to say goodbye, while others may really struggle with this for a number of reasons. On the other hand, being unable to attend a service (e.g. due to COVID-19 restrictions) can bring up a lot of different emotions, and you may prefer to do something else to say goodbye.

You could choose a significant day each year to celebrate the person you’ve lost, create a memory box, or plant something to symbolise new life. You could also write a letter to the person if there are things you wish you had said, but were unable to do so.

If you have lost someone during the Coronavirus pandemic, or you are feeling anxious about losing someone due to the virus, you can find further information and support here.

Share your memories

It can be comforting to reflect on time spent with your loved one and the memories you shared with them. If you feel comfortable, you could create a memory box with things that remind you of the person – this could include photos, music, sentimental items, or perhaps a diary where you write down your memories.

You could keep this as something for yourself, or share it with other people who are also grieving the loss of that person. Although you may be concerned about getting upset in front of others, sharing our experiences of grief can be therapeutic and help us come to terms with the bereavement.

Share your memories
Focus on what makes you happy

Focus on what makes you happy

Experiencing bereavement can be difficult, so it’s important to be kind to yourself during this time. Practising self-care can help to lift our mood and allows us to manage our feelings in a safe way.

Consider lifestyle choices that make you happy and are within your control, such as exercising or spending quality time with loved ones. You could also express your bereavement in a creative way, perhaps through painting or music.

If you find it difficult to make time for self-care, try to just have a few quiet minutes to yourself, or practise mindfulness techniques at some point in the day. This could be during your lunch break if you have a busy schedule, or before going to bed as this can help you sleep better. You can find more tips about improving sleep quality here

By taking time to slow down and sit with our thoughts, we are better able to manage overwhelming feelings.

Where to find support

There are many services offering bereavement support depending on the nature of your loss and your individual needs. You can also find services in your local area providing other types of support here.

 

Bereavement services in Sussex:

Sussex Community - self-referral information for counselling in Newhaven, Lewes, Hailsham and Eastbourne.

Cruse Bereavement Care - bereavement information, advice, and support across Sussex.

St Wilfrid’s Hospice - bereavement support for family and friends of anyone cared for by St Wilfrid's, as well as bereaved people (including health and social care workers) in the Eastbourne catchment area.

Bereavement support for the death of a child:

Sands - support for people who have been affected by neonatal and stillbirth death

Child Bereavement UK - helping parents, children, and families affected by the death of a child

Bereavement support for suicide:

Cruse (traumatic bereavement support) - contact 07376 616628 or sussexbereavedbysuicide@cruse.org.uk

Survivors of Suicide (SOS) Brighton & Hove - emotional support, information, and advocacy for adults experiencing suicidal ideation

Help is at Hand (Support After Suicide Partnership) - a resource for people bereaved through suicide or other unexplained death 

Get Help

Get Help

If you feel that grief is getting in the way of your day-to-day life, it may be a good idea to get some help. Click here to find mental health support services in your area.

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