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Provides information on bereavement, where to go for support, and suggestions for helping yourself and others through grief.
Grief can be difficult and stressful and nearly everybody goes through it at some point in their lives. Despite this, it can be very difficult to predict how we might react to a loss, as it is a very individual process. After a loss you may experience any of the following:
"The pain doesn't vanish and we shouldn't have to hide it, especially from those closest to us."
"Grief is a fickle thing, and it hits you in ways that you aren’t prepared for. I’ve always been a fairly confident person so the shift in my mental health that came with grief took me by surprise."
We can feel all, none or some of these things. There is no right or wrong way to feel following a loss. Some people seek help immediately by showing their emotions and talking to people, others prefer to deal with things slowly, quietly or by themselves.
"I have lost friends and family - each bereavement has been different but it has all been a learning process. It is crucial that people know where to turn to."
There are many different factors that affect grief, including the relationship we had with the person who died, our previous experience of grief, and the support we have around us. Some other experiences you may have while you are grieving include:
Research has suggested that, in some people, grief comes in stages or as a cycle. The grief cycle as a whole is sometimes referred to as 'mourning' and describes how people adapt following a loss.
It is a completely individual process but can be influenced by things such as culture, customs, rituals and social expectations.
"I managed to get good grades... but inside I was always suffering, feeling lonely and isolated, detached and numb a lot of the time. I couldn't fully express how I was feeling to anyone."
Different studies describe the stages of the grief cycle in slightly different ways, but the most common stages are:
These stages do not always appear in the same order for everybody, and some people experience some stages and not others. It is common to move forwards and backwards through the stages in your own way and at your own pace. Some people may experience grief outside of the cycle altogether.
If you ever feel like you are not coping with bereavement there are organisations and people who can support you. Some ideas for who to contact can be found on the support and self-care page and the useful contacts page.
"Things that helped me through the bereavement were opening up about the way I was feeling, making real friendships, exercise, healthy eating, and helping others."
In most cases, grief is not a diagnosable mental health problem. It is absolutely normal that grief places strain on our everyday lives and it can take a long time to adapt to life after a loss. Even after a long period it is still normal to experience days like the difficult early days after a bereavement, but over a period of time we gradually learn to manage these. This is sometimes called simple grief.
However, sometimes people experience such strong feelings of grief long after a bereavement happens that a diagnosis of complicated grief is made. These experiences of bereavement can be very similar to 'simple grief' except that, rather than becoming manageable in the long-term, they can worsen and affect your day-today-living for a long time.
This information was published in July 2019. We will revise it in 2022.
References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.