For practical information on what to do in the immediate time after a bereavement such as changes to how to register a death and planning a funeral, please visit our FAQs and for detailed steps on what you need to do after a loved one dies visit the GOV.UK website. You may also find Citizens Advice a helpful resource for financial or legal worries.
What is bereavement?
Statistics show most of us will experience a bereavement at some point in our lives, 92% of us will suffer what’s known as a ‘significant’ bereavement before the age of 16. This is where you lose someone close to you that triggers the emotional process we all go through as we adjust to the life after a loss, known as grief.
Grief can be caused by bereavement but can also arise from the loss of someone or something important in a way that you have become accustomed to, be it the end of a close relationship, losing a job or home. There are many common symptoms of grief and no wrong way to feel at any time. These emotions can be incredibly powerful and come in waves throughout your life after a loss with no apparent reason and no set time scale as to when grief will subside.
While grief itself is not thought of as a mental health issue, it can cause stress, anxiety, depression and other problems. If you are not sure how you are feeling, the NHS website offers online self-assessments which can help point you in the right direction for guidance and advice.
Help and support
Friends, family and loved ones may offer thoughts and support after a bereavement, emotional or practical, remember to take it if you need to. If you feel you are struggling to cope with your emotions there are many charities and other organisations that are here to help provide support, advice and give you the tools to help deal with grief. If you feel like talking, it’s important that you do, no matter the stage in the grief journey. Whether with a charity, a professional, GP, local council provisions, family or friends. Talking is a great way to be able to think through and deal with your emotions.
If you don’t feel like talking, there are a wealth of resources online to read, listen to or become a part of. From social media accounts dedicated to giving the bereaved a voice and content to relate to, to podcasts aimed at breaking down stigmas associated with grieving.
Some may find it easier to talk to someone who is also going through grief after a bereavement. While they’re something none of us would ever hope to need, bereavement support groups can provide emotional relief shared between people going through a similar loss and reassurance that you are not alone in your feelings.
Each support group will be different, online or in person, some centred on the type of loss, others on an activity like going to the cinema, writing, a sport or even knitting. The idea being to bring people together over a common interest in a relaxed environment. There is no expectation to talk about loved ones no longer with us or feelings, sometimes being with others who have similar experiences to our own in a safe space can provide some much needed comfort.
Your local independent funeral director has an in-depth knowledge of your local community, and tips for dealing with bereavement, making them a good point of call when searching for a support group. Some even run their own support groups or provide counselling resources.
Some are able to find solace in focusing their feelings associated with loss into something positive such as raising money for a charity in memory of a loved one, exercise, journaling emotions, meditation, or becoming part of the grief community on social media.
However we deal with grief, know that we are not alone and that there is a huge support network for those suffering at any stage after a bereavement.