When Someone Special Has Died
We would like to offer you and your family our deepest sympathy at this time. The next few days will probably be extremely difficult for you and we know it is not easy to turn thoughts to the practical arrangements now needed. We hope this information will help you.
Whether it has been sudden and unexpected, or you have known for sometime that it was imminent, the death of a close relative or friend may be hard to come to terms with. There is always shock and grief and there are so many things that need to be done. Grieving is natural and affects people differently. It may help to share these feelings with friends and relatives who may also feel the loss. You may be helped by the support of a Minister or Priest, regardless of your religious beliefs.
We’re sure you will want arrangements made efficiently, with dignity and respect for the person who has died. You may want to do all this yourself, or seek the help of a trusted friend. People like to help by taking part, try to involve one or two people who will share the burden by telling family and friends the sad news.
Grief is a natural reaction to the loss of someone close but can feel extremely painful and frightening. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and you may experience a range of emotions such as:
Shock / numbness; you may find it difficult to believe this has happened.
You may feel your world has been turned upside down, it can be hard to make decisions and you may feel restless and unsettled.
Anger and guilt; it’s natural to look for explanations when someone dies. You may blame others, yourself or the person who died for things which were done or not done.
Sadness; seemingly trivial things may set off the tears. Often it is everyday events which remind us of what we have lost.
Although there is a natural progression through these feelings it is common for a grieving person to return to all of these emotions at different times.
You may feel hurt that no one seems to understand the pain and emptiness you are feeling. You may therefore, have to take the first step and share those feelings with others that are able to listen. Sometimes those outside the situation can be very helpful. The following are organisations are here to help:
CRUSE Bereavement Huntingdon 01480 414511
CRUSE Bereavement Bedford 01234 340321
Samaritans 08457 909090
Compassionate Friends 0845 123 2304
Child Bereavement Service 0800 0288 8840
Carers National Association 01634 716615
Age UK 0800 169 2081
SANDS (Still birth & neonatal) 0207 436 5881
- Marisopa Trust (Support for patients who have lost babies at any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy) www.mariposatrust.org
Miscarriage Association 01924 200799
Cot Death Lullaby Trust 0207 802 3200
Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Hunts 0844 245 1292
Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Beds 0844 245 1290
SBSP (Suicide support) www.supportaftersuicide.org.uk
How long will this last? Be patient as grief doesn’t run in a straight line and there are good and bad days for months to come. Anniversaries and holidays are often times when feeling of grief becomes worse.
Everyone has their own way of remembering the person who died, it can be helpful to talk about them, mention their name as often as you can and put the emphasis on good things that happened when they were alive.
“Memories are the loveliest things, they last from day to day, they can’t get lost, they don’t wear out, and can’t be given away”
Children and Bereavement
Sadly, research has shown there can be a link between childhood bereavement and emotional problems later in childhood or young adulthood.
At this difficult and painful time the natural instinct of any parent or carer is to protect your child. Unfortunately, this often means children are not told what is happening, excluded from mourning rituals and expression of family grief. Research shows that very young children can sense what is happening and their fears are often far worse than the reality. Even when families involve and include children, constant questions or difficult behaviour can be very hard to cope with on top of your own grief. Children may not know how to use words to express their feeling or will try to protect the adults around them by not talking about something they know will upset them.
The consequence of this may be that grief is not shown or expressed now and is stored up for later.
How do children grieve?
Children, like adults, grieve differently. There is no right or wrong way. They also feel all the same feelings, but these may be expressed through behaviour rather than words. Behaviour which is out of character may be a sign of grief and a cue to talk with your child about their feelings of loss and any worries or concerns.
Children also miss their loved ones in different ways as they get older. Grief is neither always present nor finally absent.
Aren’t they too young to understand?
Up to the age of two children have little concept of death but they will react to absence and the atmosphere around them. They may become clingy, cry, regress or have eating and sleeping problems.
From two to five children can begin to understand that death is permanent but will be easily confused and need repeated explanations. They may intermittently demand to know where the person has gone and when they are coming back. They may show angry, clingy or demanding behaviour.
From five to eight children can understand that death is permanent but are very literal in their thinking. So they may worry that something they did caused their loved one to be ill or be frightened by expressions such as “granny died peacefully in her sleep” believing that when they go to sleep they also may die.
Between eight and twelve children understand death in much the same way as adults. They may fear their own death or that of other family members.
Teenagers understanding of death is complicated by the other developmental things happening at this age. Often they are reluctant to talk to adults but their friends may not have the skills and experience to help. They may become isolated and bottle up their grief.
How you can help
There are lots of books available for children and adults to help explain death and grief, we have a couple in the surgery library.
Share grief with your children, let them comfort you when they want to. By not hiding your feelings you are including them and letting them know that their feelings are OK. Answer questions honestly and in simple language. You may have to do this again and again.
Talk with them about the person who died if they want to and encourage children to share their feelings with you and help them express them appropriately. Ensure as much stability, love and care as you can and be gentle with yourself, you have your own grief to deal with too.
“A child can live through anything so long as he or she is told the truth and is allowed to share with loved ones. The natural feelings people have When they are suffering”
Eda Le Shan