When somebody dies it can be difficult to know what to say. If someone has lost their mother, father, sibling or friend, it is normal to worry that we might offend them or make things worse, but it’s more hurtful to say nothing at all.
Here are a few things that you can do:
- Acknowledge the person’s death
When you are searching for what to say when someone dies, don’t be afraid to state what a terrible thing it is to have happened. Do it in a way that feels natural.
- Talk about the person that has died
One of the main things that people find difficult after someone dies is when no one talks about their loved one anymore. Sharing a memory and saying things like ‘they were so funny’, or ‘I remember this about her so clearly…’ can open up an opportunity for them to talk.
- Express your own sadness
When someone dies it can leave many people feeling shell-shocked and sad. It’s okay to share your own feelings of sadness, but avoid implying to people closer to them that your feelings are the same.
- Be empathetic
Regardless of how sad you’re feeling, or your own experiences of a loved one dying, you should never assume that someone who has been bereaved feels the same. Saying ‘I can’t imagine how it feels for you,’ acknowledges that their grief is unique, not that you don’t sympathise with them.
- Accept anger
Don’t let fear of tears or anger hold you back from expressing words of sympathy. If a person is grieving after someone dies don’t try and explain or fix something that’s been taken badly. Just say sorry.
- Keep in touch
After a funeral support can gradually – or suddenly – disappear, but the bereaved person is still grieving for their loved one. This can leave people feeling very isolated. Asking them ‘what’s life like now?’ and ‘how are you coping?’ can be really helpful.
Bereavement is the state of sadness and mourning following the death of a family member. It is characterised by grief, which is the process and the range of emotions we go through as we process the loss.
When we lose someone close to us it can be emotionally devastating, and it is therefore natural to go through a range of physical and emotional processes as we come to terms with the loss. This process is unique for every individual who experiences it.
Whilst there is no simple formula for getting through a deep loss, this article will provide you with some tips for dealing with grief.
Expect some loneliness
The feeling of loneliness is completely normal however it is important not to get too isolated. When you are experience loss and grief make sure you reach out to people and support groups who understand what you are going through.
Be gentle with yourself
Try not to put pressure on yourself to feel better. Do not judge yourself for not “doing better” or “keeping it together”. Getting over a big loss takes time, you need to allow yourself this time to heal.
Embrace all emotions
We tend to have little control over our feelings, and they come and go whether we like it or not. It is important that you let them move through, like waves in the ocean. It does not mean that you are weak or abnormal if you feel these waves of emotion. If they are overwhelming you can practice mindfulness (e.g. by meditating) as this will help with emotional self-regulation. It is also important to know when to seek professional help.
Keep structure in your day
Set your alarm, get up, shower and have breakfast – this will automatically make you feel better. You do not have to leave the house but having some structure will help you mentally and physically at this hard time. Also try to eat small, regular meals, even if you are not hungry.
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No matter what the circumstances, dealing with the death of a loved one can be an excruciatingly painful, difficult, and confusing time.
Nobody should feel alone in their grief, and there are plenty of charities and organisations in the UK dedicated to supporting people after a bereavement.
Just some of the ways that these organisations may be able to help you include:
- Guidance and support.
- Telephone helpline.
- Meet people going through the same thing.
We’ve put together some information about the top organisations.
Cruse Bereavement Care– The UK’s leading bereavement charity. Cruse provides advice and help to anyone in need of support after a bereavement. As well as a national helpline, Cruse also offer local services up and down the country including face-to-face support and groups.
Winston’s Wish– Helping children and young people to deal with the death of a parent or sibling. Winston’s Wish offers children therapeutic help and support services to help them to deal with their grief. This includes professional support via a freephone helpline, online chat, email service and face-to-face.
Child Bereavement UK– Supports families when a baby or child passes away. As well as providing professional information and support to families, Child Bereavement UK also provide specialist support to bereaved children. Support can be gained via a telephone helpline, peer support groups, counselling, and online support.
Sands – Stillbirth and neonatal death charity– Supporting anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby. Sands offer information, advice and support through their website, app, freephone helpline, and local and online support groups.
Speaking to someone about your bereavement can help you to work through your feelings, get advice about how to cope with your grief, and help with adjusting to life without the person who has died.