Help & Advice

wicker coffin

What you need to know about bereavement and grief

The death of a loved one is one of life’s most difficult experiences. Bereaved people struggle with many intense and frightening emotions, including depression, anger and guilt. Often, they feel isolated and alone in their grief. Having someone to lean on can help them through the grieving process.

Do not let discomfort prevent you from reaching out to someone who is grieving. Now, more than ever, your support is needed. You may not know exactly what to say or do, but that is okay. You do not need to have answers or advice. The most important thing you can do for a grieving person is to simply be there. Your support and caring presence will help them cope with the pain and begin to heal.

Understanding the bereavement process

  • There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief does not always unfold in orderly, predictable stages. It can be an emotional roller coaster, with unpredictable highs, lows and setbacks. Everyone grieves differently, so avoid telling a bereaved person what they “should” be feeling or doing.
  • Grief may involve extreme emotions and behaviours. Feelings of guilt, anger, despair and fear are common. A grieving person may yell to the heavens, obsess about death, lash out at loved ones, or cry for hours on end. Bereaved people need reassurance that what they are feeling is normal. Do not judge them or take their grief reactions personally.
  • There is no set timetable for grieving. For many people, recovery after bereavement takes 18 to 24 months, but for others the grieving process may be longer or shorter. Do not pressure a bereaved person to move on or make them feel they have been grieving too long. This can actually slow their healing.