One of the least desirable aspects of growing older is that you’re likely to suffer an increasing number of bereavements. By the time you reach your 40s, 50s and 60s you may have already lost one or more family members or friends. Yet, unfortunately, grief and bereavement are experiences that don’t get any easier.
If you’ve just experienced the death of someone close to you, here's some advice that may help:
Don’t bottle things up
Not everyone can express their sadness openly. But intentionally bottling up your feelings isn’t helpful. Also don't try to compare yourself to someone who has gone through something similar. Grief is an individual experience, so don't put a time limit on it based on how others have coped. Remember that it often takes much longer to get through bereavement than most people think.
Talk about it
One of the most helpful things to do after a bereavement is to talk about what you’re going through. You may, for instance, find it easy to talk to friends and family members. But if you’re the type of person who prefers to experience grief privately, you may prefer to talk to one of our CABA counsellors (call 0800 107 6163). You could also try getting help from a charity that specialises in bereavement counselling, such as Cruse Bereavement Care. Other support services may exist in your area – ask at your public library or doctor’s surgery for details.
Spend time with children
If you have children or grandchildren, being with little ones after a bereavement can help reinforce your faith in life and give you hope for the future. But if you don't have any regular contact with children, why not get involved with your local primary school by volunteering as a reading assistant?
In fact, doing any type of voluntary work may also help restore your sense of purpose after suffering a bereavement, especially if you have lost the sense of being valued by the person who has died.
Plant a memorial
Research suggests that maintaining bonds with someone who has died is healthy, as many bereaved people fear their loved ones will be forgotten. Being able to pay your respects at a graveside can help, as it provides a place you can associate with the deceased. But with so many friends and families scattered far away from each other these days, regular visits may not be practical.
So why not consider planting a tree in your local park, or even a rose bush in your garden as a reminder of the person you've just lost? To plant a tree in a favourite spot, contact the parks department of your local borough council.
Take small steps
When someone close to you dies, don’t rush to make big decisions such as moving house. Instead, take small steps such as starting a new hobby or taking a short break. Then in time, you'll find the right time and the courage to make any necessary big changes.
© CABA 2013