For most of us, bereavement will be the most distressing experience we will ever face. Grief is what we feel when somebody we are close to dies. Everyone experiences grief differently and there is no 'normal' or 'right' way to grieve.
If you have been affected by the loss of a loved one that we have provided care for, we invite you to talk to any of our staff or management team. We would be happy to speak with you and may be able to help point you in the direction of helpful support services.
Immediately after a death – practical matters
In the days immediately after someone dies, you may be feeling numb, or experiencing intense emotion. But there are also some practical things that need to be done.
When someone dies there are three practical things that need to be done in the first few days:
Get a medical certificate – you'll get this from a doctor (GP or at a hospital). You need the certificate& to register the death.
Register the death within five days – you’ll then get the documents you need for the funeral.
Arrange the funeral – most people use a funeral director, but you can& do it yourself.
There are useful government guides to how to do each step in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. If you need support during these early days it’s important to ask for help. Talk to family or friends who might be able to offer practical assistance, as well as emotional support. You can also call the Cruse helpline for emotional support. The number is 08444779400, and the lines are open Monday-Friday 9.30-5pm, and until 8pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Feelings when someone dies
You may feel a number of things immediately after a death.
Shock: It may take you a long time to grasp what has happened. The shock can make you numb, and some people at first carry on as if nothing has happened. It is hard to believe that someone important is not coming back. Many people feel disorientated - as if they have lost their place and purpose in life or are living in a different world.
Pain: Feelings of pain and distress following bereavement can be overwhelming and very frightening.
Anger: Sometimes bereaved people can feel angry. This anger is a completely natural emotion, typical of the grieving process. Death can seem cruel and unfair, especially when you feel someone has died before their time or when you had plans for the future together. We may also feel angry towards the person who has died, or angry at ourselves for things we did or didn’t do or say to the person before their death.
Guilt: Guilt is another common reaction. People who have been bereaved of someone close often say they feel directly or indirectly to blame for the person’s death. You may also feel guilt if you had a difficult or confusing relationship with the person who has died, or if you feel you didn’t do enough to help them when they were alive.
Depression: Many bereaved people experience feelings of depression following the death of someone close. Life can feel like it no longer holds any meaning and some people say they too want to die.
Longing: Thinking you are hearing or seeing someone who has died is a common experience and can happen when you least expect it. You may find that you can't stop thinking about the events leading up to the death. "Seeing" the person who has died and hearing their voice can happen because the brain is trying to process the death and acknowledge the finality of it.
Other people's reactions: One of the hardest things to face when we are bereaved is the way other people react to us. They often do not know what to say or how to respond to our loss. Because they don't know what to say or are worried about saying the wrong thing, people can avoid those who have lost someone. This is hard for us because we may well want to talk about the person who has died. It can become especially hard as time goes on and other people's memories of the person who has died fade.
It is important that you take care of yourself following a bereavement.
One of the most helpful things is to talk about the person who has died and your relationship with them. Who you talk to will depend on you. It may be your family, friends, a faith/spiritual adviser, your GP or a support organisation.
Talk to other people about the person who has died, about your memories and your feelings.
Look after yourself. Eat properly and try to get enough rest (even if you can’t sleep).
Give yourself time and permission to grieve.
Seek help and support if you feel you need it.
Tell people what you need.
Keep your emotions bottled up.
Think you are weak for needing help.
Feel guilty if you are struggling to cope.
Turn to drugs or alcohol – the relief will only be temporary
Whatever you're going through, you can call the Samaritans free any time, from any phone on 116 123.
The Samaritans offer support round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need a response immediately, it's best to call on the phone. This number is FREE to call. You don't have to be suicidal to call.