Practical things that you can do to help yourself:
Talking and expressing yourself
It’s important to try to talk through your feelings with somebody when you feel ready. Some people find family and friends helpful to speak too whilst others may choose to speak to someone not affected by the grief.
There are various charities that offer bereavement services and are able to organise for trained bereavement volunteers to speak with you face to face or over the phone. It’s often easier to speak with somebody you don’t know.
Some people prefer to speak first with their GP or another healthcare professional. They too can refer you for bereavement counselling and support.
Letting yourself feel sad
It’s perfectly normal to feel very sad and you must allow yourself the time to do this. Crying is a way of letting your body relieve tension and is part of the grieving process.
Allowing yourself a break from the grieving
It’s also important to give yourself breaks from it too. If watching TV or reading a book distracts you for a while, or if watching a funny film makes you laugh, it’s important to let yourself have those moments to enjoy. Some people feel guilty if they laugh or smile when they’re grieving but it’s important for you to be able to do this. It allows you to rebuild some strength for the moments when you will be feeling intensely sad.
Keeping to a routine
When someone important to you has died you can feel as if you’ve lost all control over your life. Having a simple daily routine will give you some of this control back and make you feel safer and calmer at a time when you need stability.
Grieving can make you feel tired as it uses up a huge amount of your emotional energy. Just at the time when we need sleep the most, sometimes our bodies will not let us. If you do start to have problems sleeping, it’s important to let your GP know. They might prescribe you a short course of sleeping tablets, just to help you get back to a normal sleeping pattern. It's also worth looking at our sleep hub for more information and ideas for getting a better night's sleep.
It’s hard to find the enthusiasm to cook when you’re feeling low. It’s very important to try to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to maintain your strength. Our diet and nutrition hub has lots of information, recipes and tips to help you eat well, including one on energy boosting foods.
Don’t be tempted to turn to alcohol as a way of numbing the pain. This will not help in the long run and could become a health problem in the future.
Engage with others
As you start to feel a little stronger you may want to start socialising a little more. Bereavement organisations such as Cruse1 often run drop-in clinics or friendship groups where people who are going through bereavement can meet up and share their experiences and offer support to one another. In some cases, people can go on to develop long-term friendships with others who they meet in the group.
Some people prefer to meet people by starting a new hobby or returning to a previous interest. If there is something new that you’ve always felt like having a go at, now might be the time to do it.
You might also consider becoming a volunteer if you have free time. Helping others is a good way of meeting people and finding a new focus.
Embrace the great outdoors
Try to get outdoors at least once a day, to keep yourself active. If you can find a green space to walk or sit in, all the better! It's well documented that spending time in nature for just two and a half hours a week has all sorts of benefits for our mental and physical health.2
When you’re in the right frame of mind, creating a memory box can be a way of remembering the person who you’ve lost. You can choose a box that you think the person would’ve liked and put things in it that hold special memories. These might be photographs, their perfume/aftershave, an item of clothing, jewellery, cards that they may have sent you or received from someone else, their favourite book or anything that brings back a happy memory. You can bring the box out whenever you feel like it and it can be a wonderful way of sharing memories with the family
Our altered lives
Everyone will of course find some degree of difficulty when trying to adjust to a death.
Throughout the grieving process, there may be additional concerns and responsibilities, which can be just as daunting and overwhelming as grief itself.
For example, managing your finances, supporting your family, especially if it involves children or elderly relatives.
It’s important to make allowances for these everyday responsibilities, which may require a period of adjustment.
Finally, whatever your worries or fears, anxieties, or circumstances, it’s important to remind yourself that you’re not alone and in time, you will find the strength to accept your loss, and be able to adjust to the change in your life.