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It is entirely normal for us to become attached to important people in our lives, and the amount of this attachment will determine how much we are affected when they are gone. They often matter to us in many different ways, and sometimes, sadly, we only realise how much they matter when they are lost to us in this life. There’s nothing wrong with feeling bad about losing anyone (or any thing) that we have become attached to, and this feeling is called grief.

Grief can consist of a range of different feelings for different people, but for emotional well-being to return it is important to experience and express this individual range of feelings. Sadness, depression, anger, guilt, anxiety, isolation, numbness, fatigue, shock and helplessness can be quite legitimately expected, and for some people, senses of relief and freedom can be quite easy to understand. Looking more closely at how an individual’s grief is constructed can provide a blueprint for a plan to move away from grief. A grief that goes on beyond a respectful amount of time is destructive.

The First Steps

For free online support from our trained bereavement counsellors please click on the chat button to the right.

GriefChat offers:

  • Access to realtime, online chat, provided by qualified, experienced bereavement counsellors.
  • Advice, support, reassurance and understanding for grieving people.
  • Information about grief and how bereavement affects both individuals and families.
  • Signposting to helpful online and in-print information about bereavement.
  • Information and signposting to local bereavement care services across the UK.

Separately from missing the person themselves, if you can find out what they provided for you (in whatever sense) and then you learn to provide it for yourself, do without it or replace it (not them) in some way, it can help you cope. Sometimes what they gave you can be unclear, and bereavement counselling can help to clarify things.

Some theories about human development suggest that grief (however unwanted) is an important part of the maturing process, as the person feeling it is presented with opportunities to learn how to expand their independence, life and coping skills, emotional strength and preparedness for future adversity.

In short ~ a normal human life way of learning to grow, adapt and survive loss.

When an important loss has just happened, it is normal to be shocked and in a state of disbelief or disorientation. We quite naturally think about the deceased a great deal and when this is coupled with a wish for the death never to have happened, it is very normal for us to experience them as somehow being close by. We can become restless and try to keep too busy in order to keep feelings at bay, and this in turn can cause loss of quality sleep which in turn makes us “edgy” or not “with it”. Having a cry is common and calling out to or longing for the deceased is to be expected. We may want to keep everything that belonged to them or avoid all reminders in an attempt to prevent feelings being triggered off.

None the less, losing someone important causes distress and a departure from normal functioning that is not unlike an illness. And like an illness still, a complete recovery is hoped for but may not happen fully, and the level of recovery may depend on factors like your previous state of health, the seriousness of the loss and the kind of help offered and taken.

In every bereavement though, four stages of grief have to be resolved for some sense of recovery to take place, they are:

Accept that the loss has really happened

Experience all the feelings of grief as fully as possible

Make adjustments to your life in a world where they are missing

Emotionally relocate them with love and respect and move into the next phase of your life

Some losses are clearly more difficult to cope with than others, but an “ordinary” grief can be assisted with bereavement counselling, which follows the pattern of assisting the normal passage through the above stages of grief, based on where each individual is in the process.

Achieving the successful passage through the normal stages of grief is essential for health and well-being to return, and under normal circumstances bereavement counselling is helpful to clarify and speed-up the process, which can get stuck or incomplete.

Bereavement counselling then, is to assist a “normal” grief, under normal circumstances, whilst in normally good physical, practical and emotional health.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, some losses are not so simple, and the necessary stages of grief can become impeded from taking their course. These worse situations can be called Complex grief.

Visit Cruse Bereavement Care for more information and helpful advice on grief and bereavement.

For seven practical suggestions if your friend or relative has recently been bereaved click here