Many people are surprised by the range of emotions they experience after the death of someone close.
People often ask us, what does grief feel like? In this video, Andy Langford- the Clinical Director for Cruse Bereavement Care, explains some of the most common feelings after a death.
The death of someone close to us is probably the most devastating experience that will ever happen to us.
The loss and pain can strike very deeply. People have described it as feeling like ‘being cut in two’, or as if they had lost some part of themselves.
It is natural and normal to grieve when someone we love dies. It is not an illness, although for a time it may make us feel ill. It will not last forever, although there may be times when it seems as though the pain will never end. There is no ‘right’ way to grieve and we each react in our own way.
Shock, numbness and feeling ‘nothing at all’
Guilt is another common reaction. People who have been bereaved of someone close often say they feel directly or indirectly to blame for the person’s death. You may also feel guilt if you had a difficult or confusing relationship with the person who has died, or if you feel you didn’t do enough to help them when they were alive.
Many bereaved people experience feelings of depression following the death of someone close. Life can feel like it no longer holds any meaning and some people say they too want to die. It is normal to feel like you don’t want to go on living after someone very precious to you dies.
Thinking you are hearing or seeing someone who has died is a common experience and can happen when you least expect it. You may find that you can't stop thinking about the events leading up to the death. "Seeing" the person who has died and hearing their voice can happen because the brain is trying to process the death and acknowledge the finality of it.
Some people find it easier to show their feelings than others, but nearly everyone finds at some stage that it helps to talk. This can be to friends or relatives, or to Cruse or to other sources of professional help.
One of the hardest things to face when we are bereaved is the way other people react to us. They often do not know what to say or how to respond to our loss. Because they don't know what to say or are worried about saying the wrong thing, people can avoid those who have lost someone. This is hard for us because we may well want to talk about the person who has died.
If you're supporting someone after a death, you can find advice on being a good friend to a bereaved person.