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Coping with grief

At some point in our lives we will go through the ordeal of losing a loved one and coming to terms with the loss. This process is known as grieving, and is a natural reaction consisting of intense personal emotion and reflection. Grief is not simple; it consists of many different feelings that tend to follow a pattern, known as the grieving process. Of course every person is different, and will cope in their own way; the following is merely a broad summary.
Shock and disbelief
Upon first hearing the news, the initial reaction usually consists of not believing that it’s true. Denying the reality at any level is a defence mechanism to avoid facing something that you do not want to face. This makes the person feel numb, and acts as a psychological anaesthetic that can last for weeks. Guilt
Guilty feelings cannot be avoided after the death of a loved one. Scenarios and memories flash through the mind as the person is struggling to find a reason why this has happened. Remorse for what you did or didn’t do for your loved one is a common feeling associated with grief. At this time, being open to friends and family can help you cope with these feelings, as they can provide a more rational perspective.
Anger
Anger is a perfectly natural reaction in the weeks after a loss and is connected to guilt. Resentment towards doctors, other family members and yourself stems from the feelings that the death could have been prevented or made to be easier. As a strong emotional outlet, anger can contribute to the coping process and release any feelings that have been suppressed or reserved during the time of the funeral. Depression
This is a period of sadness and reflection. By now, the reality of the loss would have hit, and all previous emotions of guilt and anger fade away to reveal the true gravity of loss. Feelings of helplessness and loneliness are a natural part of this stage, and although it is tempting to sit alone and brood, this is the best time to talk with family and friends and begin working towards recovery. Adjustment and recovery
As time passes, you being to learn how to cope without your loved one. The feelings of sadness and depression begin to fade, and your own life comes back into focus. This paves the way forward to moving on and accepting what has happened. Acceptance and Hope
After the rollercoaster of emotions associated with grief, the individual finds themselves with a sense of pride and self worth to be able to navigate through such a difficult time. Acceptance does not mean instant happiness; it means that you are now able to move forward with your life and plan for the future. The memory of your loved one will not have the same effect as before: Instead of sadness and pain, you remember the good times and the lessons learned from your time with them. Gradually, you will stop living from day to day, and look forward to the future. For more information and advice on how to deal with a recent death, the following links may prove helpful.

Cruse Bereavement Care
0844 477 9400, 9.30am – 5pm

Cruse Helpline for Bereaved Children
0808 808 1677

Young Minds advises on how adults can help children and young people deal with bereavement.
Freephone 0800 018 2138

Child Death Helpline
Freephone 0800 282 986
See Child and Baby Funerals

Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Society
020 7436 5881

The Miscarriage Association
01924 200 799

Child Bereavement is a national charity supporting grieving families.
01494 446 648

Compassionate Friends is an organisation of bereaved families offering support to others after the death of a child or children. The helpline is always answered by a bereaved parent who is there to listen.
0845 123 2304

The Way Foundation helps the under fifties who have lost a partner
0870 011 3450

Barnet Bereavement Service, 020 8441 3572

Quicklinks