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Experiencing bereavement

When someone close to you dies, the reaction can be painful, stressful and complicated. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and confused by our emotions.

We know that life has an ending for all of us, and that the end of a life can come in all kinds of ways, and at every stage of life.

Coming to terms with the death of a loved one, however that life has ended, may take a long time, and it can be difficult and exhausting. However, the sense of loss and the experience of grief is a normal, natural response, even if your emotions don’t feel normal at the time.

Immediately after a loved one has died, you may experience shock, even when the death was expected.There will also be lots of practical things to do that require your attention.Therefore, it may be hard to think straight at first, and you may start to grieve again after the funeral or after various tasks are completed or when the people around you resume their usual routines.

The experience of grief may affect you in all sorts of ways: disbelief, anger, guilt, crying, numbness, loneliness, relief, regret, a loss of appetite, a lack of sleep, an inability to concentrate; we may imagine that we saw or heard the person who has died.

Emotions can be triggered by familiar places, particular dates or special anniversaries but sometimes grief can catch us completely unawares by the smallest of things.

There are no right or wrong reactions in bereavement.We’re human and we react.We’re also different - so we react in many and varied ways.But our humanness is also what unites us - and so there are aspects of grief - and patterns of grief - that are common to us all.That’s why talking things through with a bereavement counsellor - or with a wise and trusted friend - can often be just what is needed.

Exploring bereavement support

If you are not coping with your emotions, or if your grief is overwhelming, bereavement support is available for you.

It is wise to consider making an appointment with your GP who can check there is no physical cause for the way you are feeling.Your GP may refer you to a bereavement support provider.

At Thames Hospice, we receive referrals from GPs and other Health Care Professionals into our Counselling and Bereavement Team. We provide compassionate and specialist support from our qualified and experienced team. We understand that everyone deals with loss and grief differently so we can offer individual or group sessions in tailoring our support to your needs.

It is true that close family members and good friends can be a good source of support but sometimes it can be more helpful to talk with someone else outside your normal setting.Bereavement counselling is an opportunity for you to express your thoughts and feelings, and to explore what is happening to you in a safe, supportive and confidential setting.