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Coping with death and grief

In this page, we have outlined some aspects of grief in order to help you gain an understanding of the grief cycle.These facets of the grief process may or may not be experienced, or may be revisited over a period of time. The grief experience is unique to each person and the following descriptions are purely an overview to assist you in identifying and coping with your grief cycle.We ask that you read this section not for preparation, but rather to understand the grieving process, and how, if you are faced with death of a loved one, you will need to work through it for effective readjustment to life.


The Stages Of Grief

It is a vital part of your recovery process to openly mourn the death of a loved one. You need to allow yourself the time to mourn and to grieve. Grief is not a feeling of constant depression, but it may be a combination of anger, sadness, guilt, depression, denial, fear, panic and loneliness. These feelings, although they sometimes may be bewildering, are common and natural.

The stages of grief are:

1. Shock
When you first learn that someone you love has died, your immediate reaction may be one of shock. You may act stunned and may be in a state of disbelief, especially if the death is sudden or unexpected. This is a natural reaction because you are not ready to accept their death.

2. Emotional Release
Letting go of your emotions and expressing your feelings aids the healing process and is a big step in the right direction towards readjustment It is normal for you to want to cry, shout, be angry, reminisce and share memories.

3. Depression
In releasing your emotions you may become depressed and experience overwhelming feelings of loneliness. This is the time when you finally realize the deceased is gone forever. You may become disinterested in what's happening around you.

4. Isolation
Remembering the past you shared with your loved one is another natural part of your grieving process. It is when all the good times you shared with the deceased become a constant thought. Although it may seem to hurt more, it can bring you some relief to share your memories and feelings with others.

5. Guilt
You may tend to blame yourself for their death. "If only I'd been there for her" or "If only I hadn't let him go there" are thoughts that may constantly cross your mind.

6. Hostility
You may experience anger and aggression when working through the grieving process. It is important that you don't bottle your anger up, but rather talk to someone you can trust and feel comfortable with in discussing the death.

7. Physical Demands
You may experience certain physical symptoms during the course of your grieving. Your body may ache with tension, which could lead to sleeplessness, headaches, low-energy, poor appetite and so on. It is important for your health and well-being to take the time to look after yourself. Make sure you eat properly, exercise regularly, try to get a good night's sleep and visit your doctor for a check-up.

8. Signs of recovery
It will take you time to work through the grieving process, but eventually you will start to feel better and ready to get on with your life again.

The length of time it takes to work through the grieving process varies from person to person. We can t tell you the right or wrong way to grieve, but rather we can help you to understand certain feelings you may experience. Grieving is highly personal and must be worked through, step by step, with the help of family and friends.

If you do require more assistance, we can recommend professional counsellors and support groups. They are there to help you with any problems and to show you how to effectively manage your grief - you are not alone.

The grieving process will be a difficult time for you, but by following a few practical steps, we can help you readjust to life a little more quickly.

Keep in contact with your family and friends by letter, phone, visits or inviting them around for tea or coffee.

Plan your social events ahead of time so you have something to look forward to.

Go and stay with friends or family who live some distance from you for a change of scenery.

Go on a relaxing holiday

Join social clubs to meet new people. Keep a diary to help you understand your path through the grieving process.

Delay making major changes, such as selling a house.

Some of us don't know what to say or how to act when a friend is trying to cope with the death of a loved one.

Here are a few of our suggestions to help you help them through this difficult time.


1. How You Can Help
You can start to help even before the funeral by offering assistance with meals, or with daily chores.

Attend the funeral. Just being there shows that you share the bereaved's grief and that you are still a friend.

After the funeral — that's when an understanding friend can mean a great deal. That's when they need to know you are still there, that they are not alone in coping with their grief.

2. Be a Good Listener
Encourage them to express their feelings and emotions. Listen to them, try to understand their moods and let them say what they want to say. You're not there to judge.

3. You Don't Have To Rely On Words
A squeeze of the hand, a touch on the shoulder, or an embrace is sometimes more comforting than words.

4. Don't Try To Hide Your Own Grief
Chances are you were also a friend of the deceased and that you too feel grief. Don t be afraid to show it. If you feel like crying, do. Your friend will certainly understand, and tears can be a way of sharing your experience.

5. Show That You Haven't Forgotten
All too often, when you ask bereaved friends if there is anything you can do, they will feel they are a burden, or are intruding, and will decline your help even when it would be welcome. So telephone, visit, drop by with food, take children on outings, or invite the family to your home.

6. Remember Important Dates
Remember important dates such as wedding anniversaries, and especially the anniversaries of the death. 



Listed below are a number of links and contacts for support groups

Life Line: 24hour telephone counselling.
Telephone: 131 114

Centre for Grief Education

Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support:(SANDS)

The Compassionate Friends

National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Support Centre

Beyond Blue