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Coping with bereavement and loss

Last reviewed on 02 July 2020

The strange and uncertain times we find ourselves in mean our lives have been turned upside down. Our usual routines and support networks aren’t there, making us feel vulnerable and anxious. The sense of loss of our freedom and our familiar daily lives can fill us with a range of emotions like sadness, anger, frustration and anxiety.

On top of this, some of us may have recently lost family, friends or colleagues, and the physical isolation from others can make us feel like we’re coping with this bereavement alone.

Grief is a natural response to any form of loss. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.

Everyone responds differently to bereavement and grief. It’s important to remember that you never really get over your loss, but you can learn to live with it with the right help and support. Here are some things to consider:

Express your emotions

It's important to express your emotions rather than bottle them up inside. Talk to someone you trust, who'll help you remember that though you have suffered a loss you must try and live your own life and find happiness. Life is worth living.

It’s okay not to be okay

Don’t be surprised at how you’re feeling day-to-day and hour-by-hour. A piece of music, a smell, a word or phrase can trigger your feelings. Don’t worry, that’s normal. If you’re working with others, let someone know and, if it helps, take yourself away until you’re feeling better. If you see a colleague struggling, you don’t have to know what to say. Simply being there for them can be enormously comforting.

Know your loss is important

If the person you’ve lost, or the relative you can’t see, or relationship you had was significant to you, it’s normal to grieve the loss you’re experiencing and perfectly normal to feel the emotions – don’t fight them and don’t put yourself under pressure to be strong. Give yourself time to work through the different emotions and come to a natural feeling of calm and/or acceptance.

Give yourself time

There’s no normal timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in days, some in weeks, some in months and some maybe even take years. Be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

How do I help others who are dealing with bereavement and loss?


Be supportive

If you’re supporting someone else through a bereavement, just be yourself and listen, and then listen some more. Remember everyone’s grief is unique, so never say “I know what you’re going through”, because you don’t. Here are two videos on how we can support grieving colleagues and how we as individual can deal with personal grief.

Keep in touch

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a text, a phone call or a chat, it’s the contact that matters. Don’t feel scared if someone starts crying. It’s okay to be silent and just allow their emotions to flow, knowing you’re there to listen. It’s also okay if someone doesn’t cry – everyone processes grief differently. Don’t use the phrase “let me know if there’s anything I can do”, it’s hard to reach out to others when you’re grieving. Make suggestions to them on how you could help, like offering to walk the dog or do some shopping.

Reach out for professional support

It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to ask for help. Find out more in the useful link and support sections.

There is also the bereavement charity, CRUSE Bereavement Care. They have a free helpline for anyone experiencing loss in any way 0808 808 1677 or helpline@cruse.org.uk