How To Cope With Bereavement
This is intended to help you get through the first few weeks of losing a loved one, especially if they were very close to you. Some of this advice will not apply if their death was the result of an accident, particularly one caused by a third party. Some of it may not apply due to other circumstances, but hopefully some of it will help.
What you'll need:
Talk about them. Very often when friends see you for the first time after your bereavement, they avoid the subject. Encourage them to ask questions and talk to them about your loved one. And listen to them if they want to talk about their own experience of loss – it may help you.
Work through the guilt. If you were the person closest to them, you are probably asking yourself if you could have done more; if you could have noticed the signs that they were unwell. Remind yourself that you are not a doctor. Talk to yourself about this and come to terms with the fact that they were in the hands of medical professionals for the most part. If there had been anything else which could have been done, it would have been done by them. Guilt is a necessary part of grieving, but deal with it as soon as you can and try to absolve yourself.
If you are the decision maker, don’t make them hastily. You may regret letting the loved one’s best friend have her pick of their belongings at a later date. She may have picked one of the very things you long to see again 3 months down the line. You may bitterly regret putting their house on the market when it comes to showing prospective buyers around, or discussing reduced prices with the estate agents. Hang fire on as much as you can for a while, until your heart starts to heal, or it could hurt again at a later date.
Write a story. Write anything that comes into your head about the loved one. Things that made you laugh, things that made you cry, things that annoyed the hell out of you – and write down the days leading up to their death and indeed the day of their passing itself, if you wish. Don’t try and make it a professional job – just write as you think and feel. It will help calm your mind. If you type, do it on the computer and put a password on it – nobody else has to read it but you. If you don’t type, write it in longhand and put the document away somewhere safe. Take it out and re-read it at intervals, but get it out of your head and onto paper – it will help.
Take time to go through their belongings, if this job falls to you. Don’t rush this – look on it as a form of ‘remembrance day’. Make yourself comfortable, make some tea and go through the drawers and wardrobes and cupboards – even their purse or wallet and take your time with it. Everything you touch will have a memory – take time to recall this. If it was someone particularly close, keep something you can wrap around you, or hug. A cardigan, a scarf, a jacket – anything you can hold next to your body and cuddle when you want to remember them.
Don’t feel you have to forget them or stop talking about them. You don’t have to - they were part of you and part of your life. Keep their memory alive and talk about them. Talk to them, aloud if you’re alone, in your mind if you’re in company.
Get help planning the funeral. Don’t try and do it all alone. But if the funeral is your responsibility, let it stay that way. Don’t let a distant relative or friend push you into doing something their way, or in a way you don’t want to do. Consult people, but don’t be bullied or intimidated. Have it the way you want it to be.
Don’t feel guilty about laughing, or enjoying yourself. The night before my mum’s funeral, her brothers and I were helpless with laughter recalling some of her ways. She would have loved it.
Everybody will tell you this, and it's true - time is the only thing which will make it easier and you just can't rush the process.