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Dealing with bereavement

Dealing with death is hard - don't be afraid to let yourself grieve


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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When someone you know passes away, it can be one of the hardest things to go through. You could feel shock, disbelief, sadness, anger or numbness. It's normal to feel like this; you're grieving. Remember, everyone reacts differently to loss and it's ok to feel whatever you're feeling. With time and support, you will feel start to differently. 

Some ways to cope with loss

  • Don't be afraid to let yourself cry. It's good to let your feelings out. Take your own time to heal.
  • Be around people who love you. You need friends and people you care about to help you, talk and listen to you and, most importantly, understand you. How could things ever get better after this? How will you ever be able to laugh again? These are normal thoughts and feelings. Know that you're not alone. There will always be someone there to help you and listen to you as long as you let them in on how you're feeling.
  • There is no set time when someone stops grieving. Everyone grieves differently, but the feelings they have are just the same as yours. Don't feel stupid or ashamed of what you feel. People say that talking is the best cure. They're right. Talk to a friend and share good memories with them. Laugh with them and cry with them. Remember the little things you used to do with the person that you lost. They seem like really simple things, but they're always the most treasured and happy memories.
  • It is important not to hide how you feel for fear of upsetting others. Even if others do burst into tears with you, there's nothing wrong with that. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for a hug. One of the most comforting and reassuring things a friend can do for you is hug you. Just knowing they're there for you can be a huge help. 
  • Write down your thoughts. Another helpful thing to do can be to write a letter to the person you lost. Keep it for yourself. Writing down your feelings helps you remember the times you had together and some of the enjoyable things you both did. It's something that's between the two of you.
  • Don't feel guilty for getting on with your life. Remember that even though you'll never forget, in time you will be able to let go without feeling disloyal or guilty. But for now just take each day as it comes and remember that the person you lost will always be with you in spirit and a part of them will always live on in your heart. All you need is gentle words, strong hugs, happy memories and good friends. If you have these, you will eventually feel better. Just give yourself time.
  • If you have lost someone close to you and feel that it's too difficult to talk to a family member or friend, talk to Samaritans.

When a friend dies

When a friend passes away, it can be very hard to comprehend.  We're used to having our friends around, chatting, joking, messing, but when one is missing there is a huge difference. 

Feelings of grief, despair, depression, heartbreak, anger and fear can set in. It can take time to start to feel better. Time lets us get on with our lives but we still remember the highs, lows, good points, bad points and we'll always have fond memories of our friends. We may never truly get over the death of a friend but time eases the pain.

  • If a friend of yours dies, don't be afraid to show your emotions. If you feel like crying, cry. 
  • Don't feel bad to start laughing again after a friend has died. It is not wrong and they would want you to be happy. Talk to people about how you are feeling and if someone wants to talk to you about how they are feeling, let them.
  • Respect the feelings of others and support them. Some people will get over the death of a friend or loved one quicker than others as we all grieve differently.
  • As mentioned above, It may help to write your emotions down on paper. This will allow you to free up some space in your head. Another way to help with the grieving process is to write a letter to your deceased friend. Let out all your emotions and tell them whatever you want. It is personal and just between the two of you. Keep this letter for yourself. You can read it whenever, and as many times as you want, or you may never look at it again. 
  • If your friend has died by suicide, it can leave many unanswered questions, and a lot of pain. You might feel grief, disbelief, be in shock or denial, confusion, panic, anger, guilt or wanting to blame someone.
  • It's important to give yourself time to grieve and to ask for help if you need it.
  • You might feel overwhelmed by pain and sorrow. This is common and your feelings will calm with time. (If you are at risk of suicide or self harm, you should immediately contact your local doctor or go to the A&E department of the nearest hospital. The doctors and hospitals in your area will be listed in the Golden Pages. You can find more information on what to do if you feel suicidal here.)
  • You might feel angry at the person, everybody else, God or yourself.
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Published January 14th, 2013
Last updated May 26th, 2017
Tags bereavement grief mental health
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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