What is grief?
After someone close to you dies, you go through a process of mourning. Grief is the visible sign of that mourning and encompasses a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms that you experience after a loss. It is vital to let your feelings out as by bottling them up will only lead to emotional problems in the future.
Grieving for a loved one takes time. We all go through the process in different ways, and often experience conflicting or even overwhelming feelings, but slowly life will become more bearable.
The important thing is to get support from people you trust. Your family and friends all understand what you’re dealing with, and will want to help. Exactly how is down to you. Whether you want to talk about your feelings, reflect on your loss, or simply get out to take your mind off things, just do whatever feels right and makes you feel better. And remember to keep in touch with your doctor. If you are having sleeping problems, your doctor may prescribe sleeping tablets or may refer you to a counsellor if you feel the need for more help to cope with a loss.
How long will it take?
The grieving process takes time and should not be hurried. How long it will take depends on you and your situation. In general, though, it takes most people one to two years to fully recover from a major bereavement. It’s common to feel especially vulnerable at times such as their birthday, the anniversary of their death, and during the Christmas holidays.
After a suicide
If someone close to you has taken their own life, it can be especially difficult for those left behind. Don’t be surprised if you feel completely shocked and numb, or even furiously angry at them, or want to tell them they’re stupid or selfish. It’s OK to feel this way for a while, and other people who knew them may be going through the same thing too. Many friends and relatives feel guilty, or haunted by the thought that they ‘could have done something to prevent it’, and again these feelings are normal, and part of the grieving process.
Helping a friend who has lost someone
Don’t be scared to talk to them about how they feel, and to say that you are sorry for their loss. Let them know you’re there for them if they want to sound off angrily, cry on your shoulder, or get out to do something to distract themselves for a while. Try not to avoid them unless they ask for some space, this may make them feel worse than they do already, and it’s a time when they need to know who their friends are.
- Anyone can contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline to talk things through. 08457 90 90 90
- Visit Madly in Love to discuss mental health and relationships, share stories and get support and advice.
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
Updated on 25-Sep-2012