In time, it is possible to adjust to grief, to make allowances for our feelings and to understand ourselves when we get angry over little things, or feel hurt or cheated.
It is worth remembering that although no one can shelter you or take the pain away, people nearly always do manage to find ways to cope eventually. While it's hard to see your way out of the dark tunnel of grief, every tunnel has a way through to light at the other end.
Grief is not something you can 'get over'.
In time, you will find new strengths, new opportunities and new courage to lift some of the burden from you and to build a new life. If you can cherish good memories, as well as building new interests and people into your life, it regains a purpose. You may want to take time in making major decisions.
You cannot avoid memories: there will be reminders all around you, but the most poignant ones are buried deep within you and nothing can or should obliterate them. Remember with honesty, with tears or joy, both the good times and the bad times. Try not to worship an idealised image of your loved one.
Grief is an individual process.
It can help to take one day at a time. There can be an expectation from others that you will be fully recovered after six months, when in fact people may grieve for much longer and you, like everyone, can expect anniversaries, birthdays and special occasions to be difficult and times when you need more support.
Here are a selection of frequent statements from others who have been bereaved, which you may find helpful.
Click on each one to find out more.
I don’t believe he’s gone, I can still hear and see him.
Even when you have known for some time that someone is going to die, there is still a sense of shock when the death occurs. You may feel cold, numb, empty and unreal for a time, and have trouble in believing that they are really dead and are not coming back. This sense will start to fade in a few days or weeks, although it may return from time to time. When it does, you might feel that you can hear or see them again, and each time there will be fresh shock and disbelief when you realise the truth of the loss. One extension of this belief is that you may dream of the one who has died.
I don’t seem to be able to settle down to anything, yet there’s so much needs doing.
You will probably find it difficult to concentrate, feel that your thoughts are confused and that everything is an effort. You may lose your appetite, become forgetful and feel tired, yet have difficulty in sleeping.
Try to eat proper food rather than snacks, and try to get adequate rest even if you cannot sleep. Most people cry many times when they remember the person who has died, or some part of the funeral; while this can leave you exhausted, it is a normal way of letting your grief out. Holding it in can be just as exhausting.
I always seem to want to talk about it.
There is often a recurring need to talk about the dead person, their illness and death, the good times and the bad times. The best way in which family and friends can help is to listen and to share this remembering, although they may find this listening painful themselves or embarrassing because they do not know what to say.
Sometimes I can't remember.
Life may seem flat and aimless, but you can allow memories to come and stay - whether they are good memories or bad. Just as our own faults can lead to regrets and feelings of guilt, we must remember that other people have faults. We preserve their memory more fully if we remember the whole person, faults as well as virtues. If you find your memories have gaps, try talking with someone who will help you to explore these spaces and fill them.
I don't think I will ever be happy again.
Things may feel so bad that you cannot see any prospect of them ending. In some ways, they don’t end, because your memories remain, but much of the pain does become less acute. At some stage, you will find that your sadness is interrupted by pleasure about something that happens now. These feelings of pleasure don’t mean that you’re not caring for the dead person. It may help to renew old interests and in time seek new ones.
But being alternately sad and happy can be very confusing and difficult to cope with, and special anniversaries, including birthdays and Christmas, can be particularly difficult.
No one seems to understand how I feel - they tell me I should be over it by now.
People who tell us not to get upset mean well, but perhaps do not realise that distress, which may continue for months, is natural and right when someone close to us dies. Try to go to someone who will understand your need to grieve and be upset.
In some ways, the pain of grief itself stayed much the same... but as time went on, my world expanded so it felt less suffocating.
Following a bereavement, most people find the support they receive from family and friends is enough to help them through their grief.
Some people may find it helpful to meet up with other bereaved people - to share experiences with each other and gain support from people who are in a similar situation.
Other people may prefer to speak to a professional who is specially trained in bereavement support, such as a counsellor.