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Bereavement and loss

Some of the advice on this page may be difficult to follow during the coronavirus outbreak. Read more about minding your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.

The loss of a loved one can be difficult and can trigger a dip in your mental health. There is no right or wrong way to experience loss or to grieve. You may experience a wide range of emotions. This is part of coming to terms with a loss or bereavement.

Typical feelings of grief

You may experience a range of different feelings after a bereavement. For example, you could feel:

  • shock and numbness
  • sadness
  • tiredness or exhaustion
  • anger
  • guilt
  • anxiety
  • stress

These feelings are normal after any loss. Give yourself time to grieve. Your feelings can become more manageable in time.

Stages of bereavement

Many people say there are 4 stages of bereavement. They are:

  1. accepting that your loss is real
  2. experiencing the pain of grief
  3. adjusting to life without the person who has died
  4. putting less emotional energy into grieving and putting it into something new

You may not identify with all these stages or you may not move from one of these stages to the next.

Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control. But these feelings will become less intense over time. You will go through your own personal journey in your own time.

Coping with your grief

You don't need to go through a bereavement alone. Talking and sharing your feelings with someone can help. Don't be afraid to talk about the person who has died. For some people, relying on family and friends is the best way to cope.

Some things that can help include:

  • seek out accurate information about grief and loss
  • be patient and gentle with yourself as you grieve
  • recognise the extent of your loss
  • allow yourself to cope and to grieve in a way that suits you
  • try to sleep well, eat well, and take gentle exercise
  • try not to make major or significant decisions while you grieve
  • accept emotional and practical support from friends and family

Related topics

Problems sleeping

If your feelings of grief become more intense over time then you might need to seek more help. You might need more help if:

  • you neglect yourself or your family–for example, you don't eat well
  • you feel you can't go on without the person you've lost
  • the emotion is so intense it's affecting the rest of your life–for example, you can't face going to work

Find support

  • Talk with your GP about how you are feeling. He or she should be able to give you information about support services in your local area.
  • Contact the Irish Hospice Foundation - a charity providing support and information on dying, death and bereavement.
  • Contact Pieta House, if you are bereaved by suicide.

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page last reviewed: 23/09/2018
next review due: 23/09/2021

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