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managing grief and loss

managing grief and loss

grief can affect you in many different ways but there are ways to get support

Dealing with grief can be incredibly challenging. It can affect your mental and physical health. Whether it’s something recent or it’s been a while, grief brings a whirlwind of emotions.

When we lose someone or something important, grief is a natural response. It could be the passing of someone close, a beloved pet, or even major life changes that leave us feeling lost and disconnected.

Handling these feelings while trying to carry on with daily life can feel overwhelming, but sharing what you’re going through can make a huge difference. Grief takes time and it’s not something that magically disappears overnight. However, there are ways to help you cope.

Common myths about grief

grief follows a strict timeline

Grief isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. There’s no set timeline or stages to go through. Everyone grieves in their own way, for as long as they need to.

it’s best to keep grief to yourself 

It’s healthy to talk about your grief and seek support from friends, family or professionals. Sharing your feelings can be an essential part of the healing process. 

time heals all wounds

While time can help ease the intensity of grief, it does not make it disappear entirely. Grief can be a lifelong process and healing may involve learning to live with the loss rather than ‘getting over it.’.

How can loss affect you?

Losing someone or something significant can shake the very foundation of your emotional wellbeing. It’s more than just an emotional experience; it can profoundly impact how we think, feel and act. You might experience many different confusing feelings, including anger, guilt or numbness.

Depression 

Grief often brings feelings of sadness, changes in appetite and sleep patterns and a reluctance to engage with others or participate in your regular activities. If your grief is affecting your daily life, it might lead to clinical depression.

Anxiety

Grief often triggers feelings of uncertainty and anxiety about the future. Symptoms may include nausea, palpitations, or panic attacks and prolonged anxiousness might lead to the development of an anxiety disorder.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

If you experience traumatic loss, such as the sudden death of a loved one, you may develop symptoms of PTSD. These symptoms can include flashbacks and nightmares with reminders of the loss. 

Self-harm and suicidal thoughts 

In some of the toughest moments of grief, you might find yourself battling self-harm or suicidal thoughts. You might feel as if you’re trapped in a storm of emotions, where the pain feels too heavy to bear and the world seems overwhelming.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these thoughts, it’s crucial to reach out. Talk to someone you trust, a mental health professional, or a support hotline.

Samaritans (116 123) is a 24-hour anonymous service available every day of the year. If you prefer not to speak on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.

When you lose a loved one to suicide, it can be challenging to make sense of the emotions and thoughts swirling within you. You might question if there were signs you missed or feel burdened by guilt, asking yourself if you could have done more. It’s important to remember that the feelings you’re experiencing are a natural part of this process.

“It was only after some time had passed and that I was able to reflect back on that initial period after Graeme died I realised that a lot of people who have gone through what I have don’t have any emotional support or an outlet that allows them to talk freely about their feelings.”

Lara, who lost her beloved brother Graeme to suicide, talks about her journey with grief and the value of the Suicide Bereavement Service. Read more about Lara’s story here.

How do I cope with grief?

Getting support

Talking to someone about your feelings can reduce the sense of isolation and emotional weight you’re carrying. Seek support from your network, including friends, family, community, or professionals, such as emotional support lines, local support groups and more.

Reach out when you feel stuck or unable to engage in your usual activities. Professional support can prevent a loss of interest in your daily life, self-neglect and isolation that hinders your relationships with loved ones and new connections.

There is online support available where you can find more detailed information on how to manage mental health and grief:

Consider counselling 

Many people who have suffered a bereavement, especially a sudden death, benefit from talking with a therapist. Speaking to a therapist who isn’t emotionally connected to you can make it easier to discuss your feelings and navigate the stages of grief. Your local GP can help you find counselling services in your area.

Look after yourself 

It’s important to allow yourself time to process your grief, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Keep socialising, stay active and engage in hobbies to take your mind off the pain and take care of your body. Ignoring your wellbeing can lead to burnout, so make sure you get enough sleep, maintain healthy eating habits and spend time outdoors daily.

Practical matters might come up after a loved one’s passing. Plan ahead for important dates and manage your stress levels to prevent the return of grief symptoms.

Bereavement Support 

We know that the death of a close family member can also affect your finances and further compound the grieving process.

There are certain benefits available for those bereaved in Scotland. Such as the Bereavement Support Payment and the Funeral Support Payment.

contact

Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at advice@changemh.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

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