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How ‘Should’ I Feel After A Bereavement?

Blog banner How should I feel after a bereavement

As cliched as it may sound bereavement is a part of life, a logical "bookend" to birth; however, this doesn't make it any easier to cope with. We've been privileged to work with individuals who've experienced bereavement in all sorts of circumstances such as sudden death, terminal illness, and miscarriage.

Bereavement or "loss" can come in many forms, and not just of a person or much-loved pet. We may be made redundant from our job or we may experience a relationship/marriage break down. Some losses may not be as obvious; moving house, whilst being the start of a new chapter, may also mean moving to an entirely new area and saying goodbye to good friends. For the purposes of this post, we're going to focus on loss in relation to the death of someone we know.

What feelings might I experience after a bereavement?

You'll no doubt experience a range of different emotions after the death. Here are some common ones which you may/may not feel:

  • Sadness because the person is no longer around;
  • Relief, perhaps due to the person having been ill for a long period of time;
  • Guilt at feeling relieved, or perhaps you said/did something that you regretted and it's not possible to "make things right";
  • Anger towards the person who has died, as they might have hurt you in some way;
  • Disbelief, as it may be hard to accept what has happened.

You might have heard that we go through 'stages of grief', moving through different feelings at different points in time. However, we personally don't believe there's a blueprint for how we'll feel during the grieving process.

You may feel sad in the morning and relief by the afternoon, or you might not feel any of these things. The bottom line is that you will feel whatever you feel, on any given day, at any given moment, and that is okay.

The best advice we can give is not to place any expectations on how you think you should feel. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up. The more you try to fight or deny them, the worse you'll feel.

coping with bereavement

Time is a healer

It's another cliche, but we feel it's relevant. In our experience, and that of people we've worked with, the pain of someone dying is not as raw on day 100 as it is on day 1. This doesn't mean that the person no longer means as much to you, it just reflects that you've had more time to process what's happened and integrate their absence into your life.

Someone we know once said: "You don't ever get over when someone dies; you just get used to them not being around". Certainly, the impact of death can send ripples which extend into the future, like the person not being around for milestone events such as marriage or graduation. However, time can help us adjust to the person no longer being here.

So if you're experiencing grief, please be kind to yourself. Don't place 'shoulds' or 'oughts' on how you think/feel, and take each day as it comes.

If you feel you may benefit from Counselling then please contact us.