The loss of a loved one can be incredibly difficult. Bereavement is the process of adjusting to the loss of someone important, and is different for everyone- there’s no wrong way to grieve. However some ways can be healthier than others.
This article looks at some of the ways grief might impact on your health and lists resources in East Berkshire if you’re looking for help.
Emotional health impacts of bereavement
When someone close to you dies, it can have a huge impact on your emotional wellbeing. At first you might feel numb, and unable to accept what has happened. It’s also common and normal to feel:
- Longing for the person
These emotions and experiences tend to come in waves. As you move through the grieving process, these waves will get less frequent, but many find that they never fully disappear, especially when the person who died was very close to you. Particular days, such as birthdays or anniversaries might bring back these emotions again.
While everyone grieves differently, if you feel like you’re stuck with no improvement, or you’re coping less well over time, you may have complicated grief. Complicated grief is the term used to describe unresolved grief. You may feel unable to accept the death and move on, stuck in a cycle of blaming yourself for the death, or have persistent feelings of yearning and loneliness that interfere with your everyday life.
Around 1 in 5 bereaved people will develop clinical depression in the aftermath of a death. This is characterised by persistent and continual thoughts of being worthless, or suicidal thoughts. If these symptoms last longer than two months, it’s recommended to seek professional advice from a counsellor.
What you can do
Ask for help if you need it, from trusted friends or family or from a mental health professional. It’s easy to forgo social contact in the wake of a death- but withdrawing from your support networks can lead to increased feelings of isolation and depression. Just talking about what has happened can help ease the burden.
Physical health impacts of bereavement
During the early days and weeks after a loss, many people lose their appetite, ability to concentrate and some short term memory function. You might have difficulty sleeping, or wake up at night unable to get back to sleep. Some research has shown older people suffer from decreased immunity to common illnesses, and an increased risk of mortality in the aftermath of a loved one’s death.
Taking care of yourself
Self care is a crucial part of getting back on your feet after loss. Two of the most important things you can do to look after your physical health are exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep each night (7-8 hours). Eating a healthy diet, and avoiding excess alcohol and drugs are also key to health. These will give your body the foundation it needs to cope with stress.
Support services available in East Berkshire
Your first port of call for medical advice and referrals should be your local GP.
Bereavement counselling can help you move through the grieving process, allowing you to talk through the feelings you are experiencing. Below are listed resources and organisations you can contact for help.
Local bereavement counselling
A charity offering support sessions both individually and as groups, as well as a phone support service.