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Bereavement


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

The loss of a partner, close relative, friend or someone you care for can be a devastating time during which many emotions may be experienced from sadness to anger and sometimes guilt.

Talking about these feelings can help, whether with family and friends or a specialist bereavement counsellor.

Currently there is no legal right to paid time off from a job for bereavement. Currently employees only have the right to 'reasonable' time off without pay to deal with things like funeral arrangements for a dependant relative or dependant person living in the same home.

Life after caring

A caring role can come to an end for a number of different reasons, but it’s always a time of adjustment. Here’s how to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Look after yourself

Your first reaction may be relief that a challenging time has come to an end. It’s common for relief to be followed by guilt, and you may begin to question whether you did enough, or could have done more, in your role as a carer. If your caring role has come to an end suddenly, you may go through a period of shock, or grief if you have been bereaved.

Remember, there is never one right way to feel in times of change and upheaval and you could experience a different range of emotions every day. Try to look after yourself physically, by eating well and getting some exercise by walking every day if you can. Acknowledging your feelings is healthier than ignoring them. If you can, try to talk through how you feel with a friend or family member who is supportive. Your GP may recommend counselling to help you get over this difficult time. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can provide details of local counsellors.

Experiencing grief

Grieving is a natural process and it’s normal to experience very strong emotions, but there is no wrong or right way to feel and people can react in very different ways. What’s important is to allow yourself to feel and do what is right for you, not what someone else says you should be feeling.

People often find the first two or three months after a death are taken up with practical tasks and it’s only after this that the loss makes an impact. Even if you know someone is going to die, the moment of death can still come as a shock. You may experience a whole range of feelings, including difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, anxiety, anger, isolation and physical pain. You may also feel relief that the person has died, and experience guilt about this feeling.

It’s important not to ignore your grief or to try to move on before you’re ready. There will be times when you feel better, but other times when you seem to have taken a step back - birthdays, holidays and anniversaries can be particularly painful. Sharing your feelings with someone you can trust can help. Many people have also found that joining a bereavement support organisation, such as Cruse Bereavement Care, can be a tremendous support, providing social contact, counselling and help with practical matters. Alternatively, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can provide details of local counsellors who have specialised training in bereavement support.

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