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Bereavement: Coping with your loss

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Bereavement is something we all go through at some stage in our lives. Losing someone you love is never easy whatever your age but when you also have to cope with busy family life and work it is vital that you take whatever help is available to get you through the pain and enable you to carry on living yourself.

Initial grief

How you react to bereavement can vary from person to person and is as unpredictable as life itself. The initial feelings of shock and numbness can be utterly overwhelming as I know only too well when I lost my mum to cancer. There are various stages of grieving as everyone knows which really do encompass feelings such as guilt and anger before a final acceptance of what has happened. What no- one gives you however is a manual on how to grieve.

Support

Your support network is vital and at a time when your coping mechanisms are already at their lowest don’t be afraid to either ask for, or accept help – be it practical or emotional.In the rawness of pain it can be easy to think you will never get through the all- consuming feelings that bereavement can bring but there are things you can do to help yourself and places you can turn.

Take time out

Employers usually have compassionate leave policies written into their staff’s contracts which dictate the paid time off they can have off to deal with the practical and emotional issues that bereavement brings. Unpaid ‘time off for dependants’ is also a right of all employees.

Let it out

It may sound rather obvious but don’t be afraid to cry. Too often adults struggle through a bereavement without allowing themselves to grieve, blocking out a pain which will inevitably otherwise come back to haunt them. Crying and physical activity both help to work out the pain.

It’s good to talk

Talking is vital but opening up – either about your pain or simply to talk about the person who has died – can be hard around people who assume if they don’t mention the dead person awkward silences or emotional outbursts will be avoided.
For many grief counselling works well and bereavement services are available through your GP or charities such as Cruse. These trained counsellors will help you to work through your emotions so long as you pick the counsellor that suits you. When my mum died I tried grief counselling but felt the counsellor didn’t understand what I was feeling. When I went through the pain of separating from my partner of seven years however, counselling was my lifeline; simply this time I felt the counsellor understood my grief.Bereavement: Coping with your loss

As well as counselling the NHS can offer additional help if you really aren’t coping well and though many feel a stigma taking them a short term prescription of anti-depressants can help get you through the darkest periods until you feel better able to cope on your own.

Focus on something positive

Doing something positive also helps. My mum died when I was in my 20s and hadn’t yet become a mother myself. I had no responsibilities but after realising I wasn’t going to find a solution to my pain in the local pub I decided to do something in her memory instead and persuaded my friends to join me in a charity challenge for a breast cancer charity.

Three years later, on the fifth anniversary of her death on a Cancer Research trek in Peru in 2004 and with more than £30,000 raised for a selection of cancer charities, I finally let go of the pain that had hounded me since she had died. Adjusting to life without the special person you have lost isn’t easy but eventually it does happen. It really does just take time to heal.

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About Liz Morrell

About Liz Morrell

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