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You may feel a number of things immediately after a death.
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.
Feelings of pain and distress following bereavement can be overwhelming and very frightening.
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 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.
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.
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.
How to help someone bereaved
If you know someone who is grieving the death of someone close you may wonder how best to support them. Read on for some suggestions of what to say and do.
People who have been bereaved may want to talk about the person who has died. One of the most helpful things you can do is simply listen, and give them time and space to grieve. Offering specific practical help, not vague general offers, can also be very helpful.
- Be there for the person who is grieving - pick up the phone, write a letter or an email, call by or arrange to visit.
- Accept that everyone grieves in their own way, there is no 'normal' way.
- Encourage the person to talk.
- Listen to the person.
- Create an environment in which the bereaved person can be themselves and show their feelings, rather than having to put on a front.
- Be aware that grief can take a long time.
- Contact the person at difficult times such as special anniversaries and birthdays.
- Mention useful support agencies such as Cruse.
- Offer useful practical help.
- Avoid someone who has been bereaved.
- Use clichés such as 'I understand how you feel'; 'You'll get over it ; 'Time heals'.
- Tell them it's time to move on, they should be over it - how long a person needs to grieve is entirely individual.
- Be alarmed if the bereaved person doesn’t want to talk or demonstrates anger.
- Underestimate how emotionally draining it can be when supporting a grieving person. Make sure you take care of yourself too.
Good Mental Health
It’s important to take care of yourself and get the most from life. Below are 10 practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. Anyone can follow this advice. Why not start today? - See more at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health#sthash.BQdrdReF.dpuf
1. Talk about your feelings
Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled.
2. Keep active
Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
3. Eat well
Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
4. Drink sensibly
We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.
When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings.
5. Keep in touch
There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!
6. Ask for help
None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan.
If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.
Local services are there to help you.
7. Take a break
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.
It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
8. Do something you’re good at
What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past?
Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem
9. Accept who you are
We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.
10. Care for others
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together.
This information has been taken from the Mental Health Foundation. For more information, you can visit their website - www.mentalhealth.org.uk
For an alternative guide to Mental Health, this video from The Kings Trust is very helpful: