Grief is a natural human response to loss.
We feel grief when we lose someone or something important to us. This might be the death of someone we love, the ending of a relationship through divorce or separation, or the loss of our good health and wholeness, through illness or disability.
When grief hits us, it can feel overwhelming. The pain may sometimes seem too much to bear. Understanding something about the process of grief, and about what we can do to help ourselves, may give some comfort and feeling of control.
The stages of grief;
- Shock – Immediately after the loss, you are likely to feel numb and dazed. This is the body’s way of helping you cope with the shock; – a natural anaesthetic.
- Denial -What follows, once the shock has worn off, is often a turmoil of confusion and pain. It seems impossible to accept that this awful thing has happened. You may feel depressed, anxious, panicky, angry, guilty, exhausted during this stage.
- Pain & Guilt – As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with any form of substance misuse. You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
- Anger – Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and put the blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.
- Bargaining – You may question fate “Why me?” You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair (“I will never drink again if you just bring him back”)
- Depression/Loneliness – Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
- Acceptance/Accommodation – The pain hasn’t gone, but you are accepting the loss, and moving forward. Great sadness may accompany this stage. You have turned the corner and are beginning to adapt. There will still be some sadness at times, but you are ready now to get on with your life.
These stages are not fixed. Individuals will go through them in their own way, and sometimes you may return to an earlier stage for a while before moving on again.
- Rest – try to sleep, and get as much rest and relaxation as possible. If sleeping is a real problem, see your GP, or visit your local Health Store for a herbal remedy.
Because grief is very hard work, and very draining, you need to look after yourself during this time – even if it’s the very last thing you feel like.
- Get support – talk to a close friend, relative or a counsellor.
- Eat regularly – you need to look after your body, so that it can deal with the hard work of grief.
- Try to do something physical each day, which tires you – walk, garden, do household chores, swim.
Grief cannot be avoided. We need to allow ourselves to feel the pain and loss, before we can really move on. It may seem to take forever – most people need at least 2 years after an important loss, to have finished with the last stage of grief, and there may be many ups and downs in that time.
LOSS IS A PART OF LIFE. YOU WILL GET THROUGH AND CAN EMERGE WITH A NEW CONFIDENCE, AND RENEWED ENERGY FOR LIFE.
Health and Wellbeing Centre – 01226 216 233
Barnsley Bereavement Support Service 01226 200 565
Offers free and confidential support to people to help come to terms with the loss of a loved one.
Barnsley Hospice – 01226 244 244
Bereavement group providing support to families whose relative was or is spending some time at Barnsley Hospice.
Marie Curie Support Line – 0800 090 2309
A range of online resources to help people cope emotionally, as well as handle the practical side of losing someone close to you.
Cruse Help Line – 0808 808 1677
Face- to- face and group support, delivered by trained counsellors across the UK, for families and for children.
The Samaritans 116 123
Support for people who are bereaved or affected by suicide.
Child Bereavement UK – 01494 568 900
Supports for families with seriously ill children, or following the death of a baby or child.
Sands Helpline – 0808 164 3332
Emotional support for parents, grandparents and siblings who have been affected by the death of a baby before, during, or shortly after birth.
Gingerbread Helpline – 0808 802 0925
Information and advice about coping with the loss of a partner and practical support for you and your children.
Mondays: 10am to 6pm
Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays: 10am to 4pm
Wednesdays: 10am-1pm and 5pm-7pm
- The helpline is closed on all public holidays.
Bear in mind that the busiest times of the day tend to be morning, so sometimes calling in the afternoon can help.
Royal Voluntary Service – Call 0845 608 0122 *Monday to Friday: 8am – 6pm
A charity supporting older people, with an online guide to coping with the loss of a partner or other relative.
Young SIBS – https://www.youngsibs.org.uk/
For brothers and sisters of disabled children.
Last updated: 20th July 2022