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If you help look after a family member, friend or neighbour and they cannot manage without your help then you are a carer. Caring for someone else's needs can be both very stressful and isolating. Adjusting to a death is gradual and happens differently for everyone. You are probably reading this guide because someone close to you has died recently. Although bereavement is a highly personal and often distressing event, many people go through a range of recognisable reactions and emotions when someone they are close to dies.

Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them. Grieving can feel unbearable, but it's a necessary process.


Grief may affect you emotionally, physically, mentally and also affect the way you relate to others. If the death was expected, you might be telling yourself you should be able to cope, yet you can't.

In practical terms, your life may have changed dramatically. You may have less money, and have to eat, sleep and live alone for the first time, or be faced with household tasks that you haven't done before. Grief can make you feel many different things; empty, fearful, depressed, and angry to name but a few. It's important to remember that these feelings are not bad or wrong. They are a normal part of bereavement. It's very important to know that these emotions will get better with time. Some people take a lot longer than others to recover. Some need help from a counsellor, therapist or their GP, but you will eventually adjust to your loss, and the intense feelings will subside.

Dealing with Emotions

Grief always requires a period of adjustment. Give yourself time to adjust and recover. Be respectful of yourself and your grief. You might feel hopeless for a while, but be patient with yourself, it is just a natural part of the healing process.

There's no instant fix. You might feel affected every day for about a year to 18 months after a major loss. After this time, the grief is less likely to be at the forefront of your mind. There are practical things you can do to get through a time of crisis or loss:

  • Express yourself. Talking is often a good way to soothe painful emotions
  • Allow yourself to feel sad. It's a healthy part of the grieving process. Crying enables your body to release tension
  • Sleep. Emotional strain can make you very tired. If you're having trouble sleeping, see your GP
  • Eat healthily. A healthy, well-balanced diet will help you to cope with your emotions
  • Avoid things that "numb" the pain, such as alcohol. It will make you feel worse once the numbness wears off
  • Go to counselling if it feels right for you, but perhaps not straight away

When to get help

There's a lot of support available during a personal crisis or major loss. Seek help if any of the following apply to you:

  • You don't feel able to cope with overwhelming emotions or daily life
  • The intense emotions aren't subsiding
  • You're not sleeping
  • You have symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Your relationships are suffering
  • You're becoming accident-prone
  • You're caring for someone who isn't coping well

Your GP surgery is always a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor if appropriate and prescribe medication if needed.

Alternatively, you can contact support organisations directly, such as Cruse Bereavement Care on 0845 6066 812, or the Samaritans on 01743 369696 (local call charges apply) or by calling 116 123 (for free). 


If you would like further information, please consult the 'helpful links' section on this page.

Fact Zone

Abstinence means not using substances. Abstinence-based or abstinence-focused can be used to refer to drug or alcohol treatment programmes that aim to help the person stop using drugs for the rest of their lives.


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