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COPING WITH BEREAVEMENT

Grief is how a bereavement affects us personally. It is what we experience when we lose something or someone who is significant to us. This experience can be especially difficult when someone close to us dies. Making sense of the loss and learning to live without that person is the work of grieving.

Tips for supporting yourself

Everyone’s loss is different. Therefore, everyone’s grief is different. Grief can be hard at times and it is completely normal to experience a wide range of feelings which can include shock, disbelief, confusion, sadness, loneliness and anger. If you are grieving, it is important to understand that what you are feeling is part of the process of trying to come to terms with a major change in your life. Click on the green icon to find out more.

Where to go for help

People can need different types of support to cope with their bereavement. Most people manage with the help and support of family and friends. Others may need different types of support. Click on the blue icon to find out more.

HELPING A BEREAVED PERSON

Grieving is difficult; it is difficult to go through and it is also difficult to witness if someone you care about is bereaved.

While everyone grieves in their own way, it is important to remember that feeling irritable, confused, relieved, bitter, angry or guilty is just as much a part of grieving as feeling sad and lonely. It is sometimes more challenging to support bereaved people through these emotions.

Following a death, bereaved people often find it hard to take care of day-to-day tasks. Their energy levels may be low, sleeping and eating patterns may be disrupted and their concentration and memory may be poor.

Bereaved people are likely to have some days when they feel they are doing quite well and other days when they may feel overwhelmed by their loss. Sometimes a difficult day may be triggered by an anniversary or a special day. Hearing a certain song on the radio, seeing a familiar-looking figure on the street or smelling a certain scent can also impact on their grief, unexpectedly flooding them with memories. This means that their support needs can be very different depending on how they find themselves that day.

WORKING IN BEREAVEMENT

The Irish Hospice Foundation has a range of supports and training for people who work (in a voluntary capacity or as a professional) with those who have been bereaved.

It is generally accepted that most people will come to terms with their loss over time and without any, or with limited, professional support. However, grieving is a process which is unique to each individual and some deaths, such as a sudden or unexpected death, or a death by violent means, may result in some individuals or families having a greater risk of developing complicated grief.

Those who work professionally with bereaved people provide information on the grieving process as a normal life experience – however they also do the following:

  • Identify those at risk of developing a complicated bereavement
  • Provide or direct to formal services to prevent complex bereavement problems
  • Provide or direct to services to treat those who are already experiencing complications.

These activities fit at levels 2 & 3 in this model.