The death of a loved one can be devastating. Bereavement counsellor Sarah Smith describes some of the feelings that can arise from losing someone, and where you can go for help and support.
Bereavement affects people in different ways. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. “You might feel a lot of emotions at once, or feel you’re having a good day, then you wake up and feel worse again,” says Sarah, who works at Trinity Hospice in London. She says powerful feelings can come unexpectedly. “It’s like waves on a beach. You can be standing in water up to your knees and feel you can cope, then suddenly a big wave comes and knocks you off your feet.”
Experts generally accept that there are four stages of bereavement:
- accepting that your loss is real
- experiencing the pain of grief
- adjusting to life without the person who has died
- putting less emotional energy into grieving and putting it into something new (in other words, moving on)
You’ll probably go through all these stages, but you won’t necessarily move smoothly from one to the next. Your grief might feel chaotic and out of control, but these feelings will eventually become less intense. Give yourself time, as they will pass. You might feel:
- shock and numbness (this is usually the first reaction to the death, and people often speak of being in a daze)
- overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
- tiredness or exhaustion
- anger, for example towards the person who died, their illness or God
- guilt, for example guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or didn’t say, or about not being able to stop your loved one dying
“These feelings are all perfectly normal,” says Sarah. “The negative feelings don’t make you a bad person. Lots of people feel guilty about their anger, but it’s OK to be angry and to question why.”
She adds that some people become forgetful and less able to concentrate. You might lose things, such as your keys. This is because your mind is distracted by bereavement and grief, says Sarah. You’re not losing your sanity.
If Death Occurs At Home
1. Telephone the doctor who will visit to confirm that death has taken place.
2. Contact a funeral director.
3. Arrange to collect the doctor’s Medical Certificate of Death (usually from the surgery).
4. Take this to the Registrars Office, (together with the deceased’s Medical Card and Birth Certificate, if available) for the area in which the death took place. Alternatively you can register by declaration at any convenient Registrars Office but certificates will not be available as these will have to be posted to you a few days later.
5. The Registrar will normally issue a Green coloured certificate for you to give to your funeral director who will look after necessary arrangements for the funeral. The Registrar will also issue a white notification certificate for the DSS. They will also enquire as to the number of Certified Copies you require for dealing with the deceased finances (a fee is payable for each copy).
If The Death Occurs In Hospital
1. Contact a funeral director to inform him his services are required.
2. Collect the certificate from the hospital then follow 4 – 5 as above
Note For Cremation
Your funeral director will usually liaise directly with the surgery regarding the additional certification required.