Grieving is a natural process that can take place after any kind of loss. When a loved one passes away this can be a very overpowering emotion that has to run its course. There is a whole succession of different feelings that can take some time to go through and must not be hurried. Although people are all individuals, the order in which they go through these feelings is very similar. For some hours or days following the death of someone who was close, most people feel totally stunned, a feeling of disbelief is common, even if the death had been expected, say after a long period of illness. However, this feeling of emotional numbness can help in dealing with the various practical arrangements that have to be made. However, this detachment from reality can become a problem if it goes on for too long.

To overcome this it can help to see the person who has died. Sometimes it is not until the actual Funeral that the reality of what has happened finally sinks in. Although it may be distressing to attend the Funeral, or to see the body, it is important to say good-bye to the ones we loved. It is often the case for people who did not do this to experience a great feeling of regret for years to come. After the feeling of numbness has gone it is often replaced by a sense of agitation. and a yearning for the person who has died. This can affect the bereaved in their everyday life, it may be difficult to relax, concentrate or even sleep properly. Some people experience extremely disturbing dreams, others say that they actually see their loved one everywhere they go, more commonly in the places that they used to spend time together. It is quite usual to feel angry at this time – towards doctors and medical staff for not preventing the death – towards people around them such as friends and relatives, or even towards to the person who has died

Another very common feeling is guilt. It is likely that the bereaved will go over in their mind all the things they wished that they had said or done, in some cases they may even consider what they could have done to have prevented the death. Of course, death is usually beyond the control of anyone, and they must be reminded of this. Guilt is often experienced if a sense of relief is felt when someone has died, particularly after a distressing illness. This feeling of relief is perfectly natural and very common and is nothing to feel guilty about. These strong, confusing emotions are generally felt for about two weeks or so after the death and are generally followed by periods of sadness and depression. Grief can be sparked off many months after the death by things that bring back memories.

It can be difficult for other people to understand or cope with someone who bursts into tears for no apparent reason. Some people who cannot deal with this, tend to stay away at the time when they are needed most of all. It is best to return to a normal life as soon as possible and try to resume normal activities. The phrase “time is a great healer” is in most cases certainly true. However, the pain of losing a loved one never entirely disappears, nor should it be expected to. For the bereaved partner there is constant reminders of their singleness, seeing other couples together and from the images seen on television of happy families. All of this can make it difficult to adjust to a new single lifestyle.

The different stages of mourning tend to overlap and can show themselves in various ways. There is no standard way of grieving, as we, being individuals, have our own ways of dealing with all of life’s trials not least the loss of someone we love.



Generally children do not understand the meaning of death until they are three or four years old. Even with this being the case they feel the loss of a close friend or relative in much the same way as adults. Even in infancy clearly children grieve and feel great distress. Children experience the passage of time differently to adults and can therefore appear to overcome grief quite quickly. However, children in their early school years may need reassuring as they often blame themselves for one reason or another. It is important that the grief of a young person is not overlooked, as they will often not want to burden parents by talking about their feelings. For this reason they should be included in the Funeral arrangements.



Some people hardly seem to grieve at all. They can avoid any mention of their loss, do not cry at the Funeral and appear to return to their normal life remarkably quickly. For some people this is just their normal way of dealing with their loss and no harm occurs. However, others may suffer physical illness and periods of depression for some time to come. Sometimes people get stuck in the grieving pattern. The sense of disbelief and shock can just continue and never seem to end, whereas others cannot think about anything else but the loss of their loved one. Both of these instances are damaging.

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