Bereavement is the experience of losing someone important to us. It is characterised by grief, which is the process and the range of emotions we go through as we gradually adjust to the loss. Losing someone important to us can be emotionally devastating - whether that be a partner, family member, friend or pet.

When a husband, wife or partner dies... is likely to be one of the most intense emotional experiences of your lifetime. Whatever way you would describe your relationship, it is a huge loss in your life. Your world as you knew it has changed, and it can be incredibly painful.

Losing someone as close as a partner usually comes with a number of other changes and losses such as loss of identity, loss of future dreams, financial loss, increased social isolation and loneliness, increased family and household responsibility and increased vulnerability to health problems.

Losing a parent...

Coping with the loss of a parent can be very difficult. Although most of us expect our parents to die before us, many adults are surprised by the complexity and depth of our grief when our mother or father dies. It can be very painful when your parent dies after a long and happy life. If they died unexpectedly or while younger this can be very difficult to cope with.

For many of us, the death of a parent is a significant loss. It changes many aspects of our lives, and will have an impact on the whole family. Feelings may be complicated. We can feel so lost after the death of a mother or father. Suddenly we may find ourselves feeling like a child again, even though we are adults with jobs, families and lives of our own. It may mean losing one of the people who thought we were the most special, and who loved us. Alternatively, if we had a difficult or estranged relationship with a parent, we can feel a grief for what never was, or for a relationship it is not now possible to heal.

Sudden or traumatic loss

When someone we care about dies in a sudden or traumatic way, this can be devastating and we can be left feeling numb, confused and not understanding or being able to make sense of why this has happened. It can leave us feeling that things are ‘unresolved’ and we may be plagued with 'what ifs' and self reproach and it may be we will never know the answers to our questions.




How do we grieve?

There is no ‘right’ way to grieve, and everyone experiences bereavement differently. However, there are some common feelings that many people share, and these can be painful, surprising or even frightening.

As well as shock, grief or numbness, people often feel regret, guilt or anger. We may feel very differently from one moment to the next, and the feelings can often contradict each other. They may come upon us when least expected, which can be confusing and distressing. A death of can bring home the inevitability of our own death, and perhaps make it seem nearer than it was before.

If a loss has not been grieved appropriately feelings of anger and depression may manifest themselves in other areas, including physical symptoms, sometimes years later. This is not only about bereavements but can be any loss ie, divorce, separation, miscarriage, abortion, job loss, retirement, loss of health, loss of a relationship etc. Any unexpressed feelings associated with early losses can have an affect on how we deal with current losses and need to be explored and understood to enable their working through and resolution - allowing effective coping and resolution of current and future losses.

If you are suffering with a bereavement or a loss, whatever that might be or however long ago it could be helpful to talk to a counsellor or psychotherapist. They will help you to make sense of your feelings around your loss and think about any irrational thoughts or questions you may be desperate to be answered.