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Bereavement and loss

Most people experience grief when they lose something or someone important to them. If these feelings are affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help.

Bereavement, grief and loss can cause many different symptoms and they affect people in different ways. There's no right or wrong way to feel.

As well as bereavement, there are other types of loss such as losing a job, not having contact with family members and friends, loss of a regular routine, loss of 'peace of mind' in terms of how you anticipated the future might be.

Symptoms of bereavement, grief and loss

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • shock and numbness – this is usually the first reaction to loss, and people often talk about 'being in a daze'
  • overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
  • tiredness or exhaustion
  • anger – towards the person you've lost or the reason for your loss
  • guilt – for example, guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or did not say, or not being able to stop your loved one dying

Getting support and looking after yourself

Things you can try to help with bereavement, grief and loss include:

  • talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor
  • contact a support organisation such as Cruse Bereavement Care or tel: 0808 808 1677
  • Derby and Derbyshire emotional health and wellbeing has more information on local and national bereavement support
  • the Derbyshire Directory has details of local bereavement support groups
  • simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope, a little exercise, a regular bed time routine, limiting alcohol, maintaining contact with relatives and friends as best you can using the phone or the internet
  • help getting to sleep if you're struggling to sleep
  • listening to free mental wellbeing audio guides
  • set small targets that you can easily achieve – don't try and do everything at once
  • focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better – not the things you can't change

You can find further information and support about:

Losing someone to suicide

The Tomorrow Project offers a variety of support to help someone manage the loss up to one year after the death. There is no age restriction to access the service.

A suicide bereavement support officer will make contact and arrange to meet face to face for ongoing emotional and practical support.

The project also provides support and information during the Inquest, and guidance and professional advice if you are concerned or caring for someone bereaved by suicide.

People can refer themselves or can be referred by a professional by email or leave a message on tel: 0115 88 00 280 or 01246 541935 on Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 5pm.

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide offer longer term peer support. This is accessed through support groups, a national helpline, email and online forums and is available indefinitely. You can refer yourself by contacting a local support group.

The national charity Mind also has some useful information on their website in relation to coping with losing someone to suicide.

How to cope when you're unable to attend a funeral or if the deceased had no funeral

Grief rituals are central to any mourning process and they help us to grieve for the person we have lost. However, sometimes in unprecedented situations a funeral, wake or memorial service may not be possible.

This is a difficult time and as such we may need to find other ways to acknowledge the loss that has happened in ways that feel meaningful for us.

If you're unable to attend a funeral or the deceased hasn't had a funeral, here are some ideas that may help you to start to grieve for the person that you have lost:

  • light a candle
  • make a quilt out of their old clothes
  • finish any projects they were working on
  • cook their favourite meal
  • reach out to family and friends and share stories
  • plant a flower or vegetable in your garden and put in a decoration that reminds you of them
  • wear their favourite perfume or cologne
  • sing their favourite song
  • frame something they've written, like a poem or a recipe
  • live your life in a way that would make them proud
  • name a star after them
  • in time, hold a memorial service or candlelight vigil

When you're grieving it's more important than ever to take care of yourself. Here are some things that can help with the grieving process:

  • acknowledge your feelings - this is important in order to heal
  • express your feelings in things you do - perhaps you could write about loss in a journal, make a scrapbook or volunteer for a cause they believe in
  • maintain your hobbies and interests - there's comfort in routine and getting back to activities that bring you joy
  • don't let anyone tell you how to feel and don't tell yourself how to feel either - your grief is your own
  • plan ahead for grief triggers - things you had planned in the coming months, or anniversaries that might be coming up, can bring up difficult memories and feelings
  • look after your physical health - you'll be better able to cope emotionally when you feel healthy physically