The loss of a loved one is life’s most stressful event. When coping with bereavement and grief, people frequently experience a wide range of emotions, even when death may have been expected. There is no real order to the grieving process, and the feelings and emotions that are experienced may range from denial and disbelief to anger, despair, shock and guilt.

These feelings are normal and are common reactions to loss. People are seldom prepared for the intensity and duration of these emotions or how swiftly their moods can change. People often say they feel as if they are ‘losing their mind’, they question their mental stability. These feelings are appropriate and it is common to feel like this. It is part of the grieving process.

Your grief will be expressed physically, emotionally and psychologically. Time is important, in that you must allow yourself the time to express these emotions. Death is a subject which is frequently avoided, ignored or denied. Sometimes people try to separate themselves from the pain, but grieving cannot be avoided forever.

There are often physical symptoms which accompany grief; sleep disturbance, loss of weight, loss of energy to name but a few. Existing illnesses may become worse or new conditions or ailments may develop.

It seems to be part of the philosophy of our times that our health and well being are our own responsibility. This leads people to believe that everybody should be able to cope with bereavement, ’a stiff upper lip’! This is not always possible, especially when you want to talk about your pain, your grief and the insurmountable sadness which you feel. It is difficult at times to talk to your family or friends, as they have their own pain and grief to deal with. Sometimes you may feel that people don’t want to listen to you, that they have their own lives to get on with; you don’t want to be seen as a burden to others. It also seems at times that you are saying the same thing all the time, talking about your pain and your sadness. This is not unusual and occasionally talking to strangers may help more, especially strangers who understand your loss.