In this blog, senior editor Tess talks about our new booklet After someone dies – coping with bereavement. 

The image shows someone holding up a copy of the booklet After someone dies - coping with bereavement. On the front cover of the booklet, there is an older man wearing glasses, looking slightly to the right.

After the death of a relative or friend, you can feel overwhelmed by both the difficult emotions you're going through and the practical tasks that need to be done. Our new booklet can support you with both of these. It also has information to help you support someone else who's grieving.

The booklet explains the different tasks that need to be done and the support available to help with them. These include:

  • what happens at the time of death (either at home or in a hospital or hospice)
  • caring for the body
  • registering the death
  • telling people about the death
  • making funeral arrangements
  • dealing with wills and probate
  • getting financial help
  • deciding what to do with your relative or friend's social media accounts.

It can be hard to cope with these kinds of practical tasks while you're also dealing with your own grief. After losing someone close to you, you might react in a number of ways. These might include different feelings, emotions and even physical symptoms. They can include:

  • shock and numbness
  • anger
  • guilt
  • loneliness and longing
  • fear
  • sadness and crying
  • relief
  • dizziness and feeling sick
  • difficulty sleeping and exhaustion
  • poor concentration
  • a poor appetite and losing weight.

The image shows a quote from Denise about her experience. It reads: My concentration and co-ordination were poor. Nobody tells you about the physical effects - the emphasis seems to be on the emotional effects. This physical reaction took me completely by surprise.

Our new booklet explains all of these emotional and physical symptoms of grief and suggests ways you can cope with them. It also explains that you might feel different on different days, and as time goes on. You might have some of the symptoms listed above, and you might have others too. Below are some of the different words people use to describe their feelings after the death of someone close to them. These are words used by people in the bereavement group on our Online Community. The size of each word shows how often people used it. This word cloud is also in the booklet. 

The image shows lots of words that people have used to describe their feelings. It includes: unbearable, scared, in shock, numb, alone, exhausted, sad, empty and painful.

There are lots of different ways to cope after the death of a loved one. Everyone's different, so what's right for one person isn't right for another. There's a lot of support available, and our booklet has information about lots of things that can help:

  • Talking to the person who has died. A number of people have told me they still talk to their loved one after they've died, either aloud or in their head. Then they often say, "You must think I'm mad". But I've done it myself, and I know it's perfectly normal and can be really comforting.
  • Talking to family and friends. You might find it helpful to talk to them about how you're feeling, either regularly or just occasionally.
  • Support groups. You could go to a support group in person or use the bereavement groups on our Online Community.
  • Religious and faith groups. If you have a particular religion or faith, you might find this comforting.
  • Writing down how you feel. There's a space in the booklet to write how you feel on different days, and what makes you feel better and worse. This can help you identify the most helpful ways of coping for you.
  • Starting to move on. You may continue to grieve for many months and sometimes years. But as time goes on, most people start to have more good days than bad. Our booklet has information about ways you can start to move on and remember your loved one. It also explains how you can get support if you're struggling to move on.

The image shows a quote from Mary about her experience. It reads: I see myself as quite radically changed in many ways. I don't have that very rich tapestry of life that I had before. But I can survive badly or I can survive well, and so I try to survive well. So I build into my days a certain amount of social activity, so that I get to see other people and know what's going on in the world around me. And I try to do interesting and enjoyable things.

You can order a free copy of After someone dies – coping with bereavement or download a PDF of it.

The image shows a splay of three pages from our bereavement booklet.

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