Understanding bereavement

In the aftermath of bereavement it is often difficult to know what to expect.  Our service users tell us that a lack of information about what they might feel or experience when grieving adds to their difficulties.

Our website is a place where those suffering a loss can gain information about the psychological factors that influence the grieving process, as well as common reactions after a bereavement. If we believe what is happening to us is “normal” in the context of grief, we are less likely to feel distressed about the pain when it does happen.  If we were to feel like we were doing particularly badly or that our pain was a sign of “madness” then it is likely that we will feel even more distressed. Below are some things that people experience as part of the bereavement process. Click for more information.

Anger
Anger is a natural human emotion. Anger can range from feeling slight irritation to becoming extremely frustrated and physically aggressive. Angry feelings are normal after bereavement, but not everybody feels anger when they are grieving. Click below to read more about how to manage anger.

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Anxiety and Panic
Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger or a threatening situation. This can take the form of physical danger, such as a fear that someone might attack you, or social danger, such as a fear that you will be judged negatively. In the case of bereavement there are many situations or thoughts that might prompt someone to feel afraid, for example, thoughts such as, “How will I cope without my lost loved one?”, “How will I go back to work?”, “How will people treat me?” Click below to read more about what anxiety can look like and how to manage it.

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Coping with grief
While grief is a universal experience that everyone will encounter at some point in their lives, each person’s grief is unique to them and to each lost relationship.  However, there are some commonalities in the experience of grief that people often talk about. Click here to read about the different phases of grief, and for articles on coping with the experience of loss.

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Depression
Depression can happen to anyone, but there are some factors or experiences that can make it more likely to happen, such as in this case – a bereavement. It is important to note that all-consuming sadness after a bereavement is very normal and entirely appropriate considering the circumstances. It is also not unusual for sadness to last a long time. Click below for more information on managing low mood.

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Nightmares and flashbacks
Following bereavement it is not uncommon to experience nightmares and intrusive memories about the death and moments surrounding the death, especially if we witnessed traumatic or graphic scenes. We cannot always predict which experiences in particular we are going to find traumatic, but there are ways we can try to cope with the memories that arise. Click below to learn more about how the brain works when we experience traumatic symptoms.

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Sleep
Sleep is such an important part of our lives, yet many of us don’t pay much attention to it until we start to have problems. Disturbed sleep is extremely common after any kind of stressor, and it is especially common after a bereavement. Lack of sleep can make everything worse, and it’s important to create the opportunity for the best night’s sleep possible. Click below for more information on managing troubled sleep.

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