Bereavement and Mental Health

Sadly, death is an unavoidable part of life. As we go through life we will inevitably lose loved ones through illness, old age or unforeseen circumstances. Coming to terms with a bereavement is never easy. In today’s modern society we are perhaps less equipped to cope with death, as thanks to advances in medicine and safety, we are less likely to experience it growing up as our grandparents frequently did when they were young.

Bereavement can hit people of all ages very hard. When we lose a person close to us who has played a big part in our life, it can be difficult to adjust to life without them. People can experience a wide range of feelings and emotions in the aftermath of the death of a loved one.

Bereavement – common feelings

People experience bereavement in different ways. While there are a number of common feelings that people go through, everyone’s grief is unique, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. Common feelings of bereavement may include:

  • Feeling numb upon first finding out about the death of a loved one.
  • Being unable to express your feelings – some people find they are unable to cry in the initial aftermath of the death of a friend or family member.
  • Thinking that you are in some way responsible, which can cause feelings of guilt.
  • Anger with yourself, with your loved ones, or even with the person who has passed away.
  • Finding it difficult to talk to people close to you and feeling like nobody understands what you are going through.
  • Panic and agitation – being unable to concentrate on normal day-to-day tasks, inability to sleep and loss of appetite.
  • Feeling unable to cope with the prospect of life without the person you have lost.

Although feelings like this are unpleasant and can be distressing, it is important to understand that these emotions are a normal part of the grieving process. Coming to terms with the loss of someone you love takes time, and grief is a gradual process. However, if a bereavement has brought on severe bouts of depression or anxiety that you feel unable to cope with, this may be a sign of a more serious mental health condition.

Grief and mental health

Bereavement can have a big impact on a person’s mental health. People who already suffer with a mental health condition can find that their condition worsens after the death of a loved one, and otherwise mentally well people may develop a mental health problem as a result.

Sadness is a natural response to losing a loved one, but if you find you are becoming depressed or have feelings of anxiety that do not pass, you should consult a medical professional for help and advice.

Ieso Digital Health offers a free online talking therapy on behalf of the NHS. Our discreet online cognitive behavioural therapy can help people suffering with anxiety and depression brought on by bereavement. Visit our website to find out if you have a local provider.

In an emergency
Call 111 - if you urgently need medical help or advice but it is not a life threatening situation
Call 999 - if you or anyone else is in immediate danger or harm
Call the Samaritans 24 hours a day on 116 123