Feelings After Someone Dies
Feelings After Someone Dies

Many people are surprised by the range of emotions they experience after the death of someone close.

What does grief feel like?

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.

What are some common feelings after someone dies?

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’

It may take you a long time to grasp what has happened. The shock can make you numb, and some people at first carry on as if nothing has happened. It is hard to believe that someone important is not coming back. Many people feel disorientated - as if they have lost their place and purpose in life or are living in a different world.
 

Pain

Feelings of pain and distress following bereavement can be overwhelming and very frightening.
 

Anger

Sometimes bereaved people can feel angry. This anger is a completely natural emotion, typical of the grieving process. Death can seem cruel and unfair, especially when you feel someone has died before their time or when you had plans for the future together. We may also feel angry towards the person who has died, or angry at ourselves for things we did or didn’t do or say to the person before their death.

Guilt

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.

Depression

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.

If you start to feel you might act on suicidal feelings please talk to someone. You can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit their website for more information.

Longing

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.

Physical feelings

It is common to feel quite ill after someone dies - the pain of grief can be felt as a real pain, and every part of your health can be affected. Read more about the physical effects of grief.

If you're stuggling to cope with your feelings after the death of someone close, contact the Cruse Helpline.

Find out more

When will I feel better?

People often ask us how long the grief will last. The truth is that healing comes slowly, but it does come. Nothing can replace the person who has died and yet gradually most people find they are able to continue with life, and start to feel happy at times, while remembering those who have died.
 
Grief comes in waves. There are dark days when it seems as though nothing can ever be right again. But there will also be better days when the pain eases and  it is possible to begin to hope and believe in the future again.

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.

Reactions from others

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.

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