A big ‘Thank You’ to our colleagues at Ashcroft Surgery in Bradford for allowing us to use this information to help support our patients (www.ashcroftsurgery.co.uk)
When somebody loses a loved one, it is usually very difficult and trying time. The emotions you are going through are probably quite normal. Often, people think they’re going mad or crazy because they either see things or can’t quite get their ‘head’ straight. But all of this is quite normal.
SOME NORMAL GRIEF REACTIONS YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF:
The following is a list of things commonly experienced by people who have lost a loved one. These are quite NORMAL and they will soon disappear. None of them mean that you are going mad and many are often out of proportion (like guilt or anger). Try not to be too preoccupied by them – don’t obstruct them, just let them happen. There’s no right way of coping with a death – people respond to a loss in their own individual way.
- Preoccupation with thoughts of the dead person leading to tearfulness and to insomnia.
- Visual phenomena Illusions of seeing the dead person and pseudo hallucination visual, auditory and physical.
- Poor concentration
- Indecision and Restlessness. There may be periods of being able to concentrate and perform quite well amongst periods of haziness and indecision.
- Searching – knowing that the person is dead but going hopefully to places where they would have been.
A BIT MORE ABOUT THE GRIEF REACTION
People who experience bereavement often wonder whether they are depressed, most of the time, they are not – instead, what they are experiencing is a grief reaction – where one’s mood is expected to be low. You may find comfort in knowing that most people manage to carry on with their lives a few months after a loved one has passed on. Grief usually passes through three stages, but these stages are not separate, nor do they necessarily follow in sequence.
- An initial stage of shock or disbelief when it is difficult to believe that the death has occurred. This stage may last minutes or weeks.
- A stage of acute anguish or anger that usually lasts from weeks to months when the feelings of depression occur. Planning the future may be difficult.
- A phase of resolution after months, or even years.
It can take between 6 months to 1 year to go through these three stages. The average is probably around 6 months.
WHEN SHOULD I GO AND SEE THE DOCTOR?
As we said before, it takes on average 6 months for a person to get through a bereavement. In some circumstances, people get stuck in the bereavement pathway, and it is in these cases where they may need a doctor to help them move on.
You should go and see your doctor EARLY (i.e. within 2 weeks of the death) if
- Your loved one died a sudden or unexpected death
- Your loved one died a painful, stormy or horrible death
- You have experienced multiple losses recently
- You feel you cannot carry on living without your loved one.
- There is no one else at home who lives with you.
- You have other life crises – financial, job loss, house being repossessed etc
- You have already been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, panic disorder or any other mental health illness.
The worrying symptoms and signs of depression would further indicate that you need to see a doctor:
- intense feelings of guilt not related to the bereavement
- thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying
- feelings of worthlessness
- markedly slow speech and movements, lying in bed doing nothing all day
- prolonged or severe inability to function (not able to work, socialise or enjoy any leisure activity)
- prolonged hallucinations of the deceased, or hallucinations unrelated to the bereavement.
If you think someone would benefit from talking further or needs more specialist support (by
phone or online), you can direct them to any of the national organisations listed below.
- Cruse Bereavement Care 0808 808 1677 www.cruse.org.uk
- Silverline 0800 4708090 www.thesilverline.org.uk
- Samaritans 116 123 www.samaritans.org
- The Good Grief Trust 0800 2600 400 www.thegoodgrieftrust.org
- Anne Robson Trust 0808 801 0688 www.annerobsontrust.org.uk
Local Groups Cheshire
- Mind Mid Cheshire ‘One for Sorrow’ Provide wrap-around bereavement support based in local community hubs to anyone aged 17+ living in Northwich, Winsford or Middlewich Tel:01606 863305 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hospice of the Good Shepherd: Family Support & Bereavement Services. Have a dedicated and professional team providing support to people throughout West Cheshire, who are dealing with bereavement following the death of a loved one, regardless of when, where or how they died. Counselling is also available to those affected by a life-limiting illness. https://www.hospiceofthegoodshepherd.com /how-we-help/family-support-bereavement-services/
- Café 71 (Chester) A non-judgemental, calm and creative space offering non-clinical crisis support both in person and on the phone T: 01244 393139 E: email@example.com
- Age UK Cheshire East Independent Mental Capacity/Health Advocacy Services firstname.lastname@example.org Counsellor is available between 10am and 2pm, every Thursday, to book a session please call 01625 612958 or by email to email@example.com
- East Cheshire Hospice Offering counselling to adults who have lost loved ones during Covid-19, even if they have no previous link to the Hospice firstname.lastname@example.org | 01625 610 364