Grief and Bereavement

⚠️ This page briefly mentions suicide, homicide and domestic abuse.

What to expect when you’re grieving

In my book, Answers In The Dark, I talk about how people grieve in many different ways. You may find yourself feeling angry one minute and completely lost the next. You may cry all the time, or have not been able to – or wanted to – cry at all. You may find you’re keeping yourself busy or just don’t have the concentration to focus on anything.

People can make assumptions about what you need or how they can help, which can be frustrating. They will often say things, albeit well-meaning and good intentioned, like they’re trying to cheer you up or talk you out of your pain.

It can be helpful to tell people how they can be useful, and compassionately let them know if they’re not helping. There is no right or ‘correct’ way to grieve.

This video offers some thoughts around grief and loss, and how society can get in the way of our grieving. It challenges the narrative that there are defined ‘stages’ of grief or that grieving is linear, and offers some ideas about what helps and what doesn’t. You can find an expanded discussion on grief and loss in Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal by Delphi Ellis

‘Signs’ of Grief

There are many things people experience when someone dies which are ‘normal’ for a while. These can include:

  • Physical signs of grief include crying, feeling numb, having problems sleeping – always speak to your doctor if you’re worried about your well-being;
  • Wanting to treasure objects or avoid reminders; you may establish rituals like visiting the grave but make sure these remain healthy and not compulsive;
  • Thinking you’ve seen your loved one in the street, or heard their voice; this is especially the case in the early days. If you’re worried about hearing voices, especially if they’re telling you to harm yourself, speak to someone asap. There is a list of links here that may help;
  • Dreams and nightmares, especially around the time of an anniversary

There are many other ‘signs’ of grief and ways we can experience grief; some may surprise you, even years down the line. In the same way, there are different things that might help because no two people grieve the same way; there is a factsheet below that might be useful. If it might be helpful to talk to someone, there is a list of agencies below and a longer list here that might help.

Bereavement Agencies

There will be national charities and local services in your area who offer free listening for the bereaved, which you may wish to explore. The following links are not endorsements, just that they may be of some use.

National Bereavement Partnership ; The National Bereavement Partnership COVID-19 Hub provides a platform for associated practical advice services, support assistance and information to all those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

SUDDEN for people who have been bereaved suddenly or too soon

SOBS – for those bereaved by suicide

Suicide Bereavement – resources for those bereaved by suicide

Bereavement Advice – practical matters after the death of a loved one

At a Loss – for the bereaved

Cruse Bereavement Care – charity for the bereaved

Child Bereavement UK – specifically for children

National Homicide Service (Bereaved Families affected by Homicide)

Blue Cross Pet Bereavement – specifically for those who have lost a pet

The Good Grief Trust – links and resources for the bereaved

The Way Foundation – death of a partner under 51 years of age

The Compassionate Friends – for bereaved parents and their families

The Miscarriage Association – for those who have suffered a miscarriage

SANDS – for those who have suffered a still birth or neonatal death

Winston’s Wish – “Childhood Bereavement Information in Your Language”

If you are worried about how you’re coping right now, please speak to your doctor first and/or contact the Samaritans on 116 123 who are available 24/7.

Supporting Someone Else

It can be difficult to know how to help someone going through a difficult time. You may find it helpful to understand grief if you don’t already, but the most important way to help someone who is grieving is often to listen, and not try to ‘hurry’ them in their grief.

If you’re supporting people at work going through a difficult time, take a look at this article on co-reflection. If you’re not sure how to support someone at the moment, you may find this video helpful from Megan Devine.

Bereavement Awareness

My therapeutic career started in bereavement, supporting those mainly bereaved by murder and suicide. I now offer a range of learning services, through courses, classes, workshops and speaking events, designed to help people, as I call it, find their mojo and get their sparkle back, often after a difficult time in there life.

I also designed and delivered bereavement awareness content as the lead trainer for the You Behind the Uniform project, building conversations around bereavement awareness. This was aimed at helping frontline emergency services, including police and ambulance personnel, feel confident talking with the bereaved whilst learning to take care of themselves. I now offer this training to other helping professions and organisations who have well-being ‘champions’ or helping services in their business.

Additionally, I designed and delivered training called More than Words to help establish bereavement peer support groups around the U.K., funded at the time by Red Cross and Co-op. During the COVID-19 pandemic I also ran an online grief peer support group.

If you would like Bereavement Awareness training for your staff, please get in touch using the form at the bottom of the page.

Delphi is just the tonic we needed. Someone who knows their subject thoroughly but who is as down to earth as can be. She feels like one of us. Delphi doesn’t bring a lecture. She brings an intimate experience full of respect and understanding. She gives space for all to contribute and demonstrates that she is listening. She has clearly worked with a lot of people who have suffered.

Frank Mullane, AAFDA (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse).

Answers In The Dark

I am also the author of Answers In The Dark which aims to join the dots between sleep, dreams and our mental health, specifically how grief shows up, even if no one has died. It explores some big myths of sleep, offers a Sleep Cycle Repair Kit and tips on how to explore your own dreams.

Find out more

To ask about training on any of the subjects discussed on this page, please get in touch using the form below.

Delphi is the author of Answers In The Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal, out now on Amazon and Hive.

© Delphi Ellis 2019, updated 2023

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