It’s a fact that most of us will experience the of someone close at some time in our life.

What happens when someone dies, however, is not something we usually talk about – so it’s easy to feel lost when it happens to you.

This section can help you to understand more about the grieving process and services you can turn to for help, including West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership grief and loss support service which offers emotional and practical support and advice to anyone in Leeds. Call 0808 196 3833 (free phone), 8am to pm, 7 days a week.

What is grief?

Grief is an emotional reaction to loss, particularly to the death of someone who played an important part in your life or with whom you had a close ‘bond’. People can also grieve for other kinds of loss such as the end of a relationship, job or career, for example, which can have a deep impact, similar to bereavement.

Feeling grief is a natural response to a distressing experience and not a mental health condition. Many people will, however, go through a range of difficult and overwhelming emotions that can have a significant impact on their wellbeing.

Separation from family and friends during the pandemic has made bereavement a much more difficult and isolating experience. Cruse Bereavement Care has produced a helpful resource ‘Coronavirus, grief and grief’.

Is this normal?

Many people who are grieving question if what they’re feeling is ‘normal’.

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve and everyone is different.

In the hours, days, weeks, months and years following a bereavement people can react in many different ways. It’s quite common and normal to experience some of these different responses (and even number of them in one day):

  • overwhelming sadness – cry a lot and feel deep emotional pain and distress
  • shock – feel ‘dazed’ and have trouble taking in what’s happened
  • numbness or lack of emotion – not cry initially and appear calm – some people feel the impact internally, or, may have strong emotions later on. 
  • keeping busy – it’s common to put off your feelings by concentrating on the immediate tasks that need doing
  • denial and disbelief – some people keep thinking that their loved one is still here and may have a strong sense of their presence days after they have died
  • Helplessness and less resilience – some people need help to carry out practical tasks and find it harder to cope with everyday pressures 
  • anger – whether that’s with the person who has died for leaving, someone involved in their care, yourself for ‘not doing enough’ or another family member 
  • guilt – about things you did or didn’t do, or, that you didn’t manage to ‘save’ your loved one and will have to go on without them
  • relief – that your loved one isn’t suffering anymore or that a difficult time in your life has ended
  • anxiety and fearfeel anxious, worry more and experience physical symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and shallow breathing – some people also have panic attacks
  • low moods – feel empty, lost, lonely and lack a sense of ‘purpose’ sometimes
  • difficulty eating and sleeping – feel tired, lack energy and pick up more colds and infections than usual
  • confusion, memory problems and difficulty concentrating – you may find you have done something odd like put your keys in the fridge – it’s normal for your thoughts to be somewhere else at this time

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