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Dealing with the death of someone close

Grief is part of life for everyone

When someone close to you dies, your life can be changed in many ways. The time of bereavement following a death is a time to adjust to these changes. If the person had been sick for some time, you may have begun to grieve before the death. 

Everyone grieves differently

Grief is our natural response to loss. It’s like our fingerprints: everyone is unique in the way they experience and express their grief, and each loss is different, just like the different fingers of your hands.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Men and women often show their grief in different ways, and sometimes find it hard to understand or support each other. People of different ages and cultures have different ways of grieving as well. 

How does grief feel?

Grief is more than just sadness. You may find yourself feeling any of a range of emotions. You may be:

  • shocked or numb
  • angry
  • relieved
  • depressed or lonely
  • resentful
  • guilty
  • confused and forgetful
  • overwhelmed
  • frightened and panicky

Most people feel grief in their bodies as well, especially in the first weeks. You may feel exhausted, cold, tense and shaky. You may find it hard to sleep, or feel sick and have trouble eating. These things are normal, but if you are worried talk to your doctor. 


How long does it take?

Grief is more than a series of stages to go through. As time goes by, you find ways to live with your loss rather than getting over it. If the loss of a loved one is a big loss for you, you might find it hard for a long time, but it won’t always feel as bad as it does in the first weeks and months after the death. It’s normal to feel affected by your loss from time to time for the rest of your life, when you are reminded by a song or an anniversary, or when you experience another loss in your life. Most people find there are good days and bad days at first, but gradually the loss gets easier to manage. Try to be patient with yourself and others. 


Further help and information

The funeral and the days before it are an important early step in coming to terms with the death of someone close. Your funeral director will help you, and afterwards is there to support you to deal with your loss, or help you to find support in your community. They may have a free bereavement support service, or they can suggest someone you can talk to if you are finding things hard. They can also suggest or lend you books or videos to help you cope with grief.