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Old December 2nd, 2010, 04:16 PM   #1
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Join Date: October 9, 2008
Location: England
Age: 22
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Default Jonathan's Guide to Grief and Bereavement

Bereavement is just about the hardest thing you can go through. Which is why it's so vital you get the support that you need every step of the way, because the journey is so much easier and safer with that support - this is how your loved ones would have wanted it for you. If you are suffering from bereavement, I wrote this guide to try to help you get through it and tell you all the things you need to know. One thing you need to know now though is that grief never goes away - it gets better, with time, but it will never be gone.

Chapter 1: What's Bereavement?

Section 1: Introduction to Grief and Bereavement
Most people are affected by losing their loved ones at some point in their life, in fact almost everyone. Some of us are unfortunate enough to have it happen to us at a young age. This can be especially difficult as during puberty hormones can make things feel a lot worse than they would be for an adult. Whoever is suffering though, grief is devastating and can cause depression if not handled well enough.

Grief and bereavement can trigger various emotions in people and lots of unwanted and often irrational feelings. Here are some that are commonly experienced:

  • Shock - as you come to terms with a death, commonly shock and disbelieving lasts for some time. As you first find out about the death often you'll be in a daze, unknowing what to say in a kind of lifeless daydream. Don't think you're alone - other people will be as shocked as you are. It is important to stay calm and not to do anything stupid, it will take a while to accept what has happened.
  • Guilt - thinking it was your fault that the person died. Thinking that you could have stopped the person dying, even if you couldn't. This can lead to depression very often and usually people who get depressed feel extremely guilty over something they had no control over. Just remember there's nothing you could have done, it wasn't your fault. We all make mistakes and you weren't to know, you can never be prepared for something like this.
  • Anger - anger often at what killed them such as an illness. Often the bereaved can be angry at the person who died themselves simply for dying. This does not make you a bad person, you don't control your feelings, it's irrational like many of the feelings you will experience.
  • Depression - overwhelmingly powerful sadness is an almost universally experienced result of bereavement. Depression is a mental illness and is very commonly the result of bereavement, it can be absolutely devastating for not only you but those around you. If you are suffering from depression, it is extremely important you see your GP or a counselor as they can offer medication to help you.
  • Forgetfulness and the inability to concentrate - this is commonly experienced as your mind is preoccupied and busy being distracted by the bereavement. Education or work recognise bereavement always and will ensure that you have all the time you need, and acknowledge the difficulty you find yourself in.

Section 2: How should I feel?
Bereavement is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to feel, some people feel very little at first and gradually develop very strong feelings whereas for others strong feelings at the beginning slowly get less strong. One day you can feel OK, and the next you can feel terrible - it's unpredictable often. Bereavement can also be a lot more extreme to some people than others, it all depends on who you are. There is no way you should feel, there are ways you can feel. Don't worry about why you feel a certain way or if you should, try to find a resolution to that. That's what this guide is for.

Section 3: What are the "stages"?
There are usually four or so stages to bereavement. The transition from one to the other may not always be exact or smooth, but roughly the following is usually true:
  • Acceptance - coming to terms with the loss, accepting that it has happened and that there is no going back. This can take various periods of time but usually lasts over a week to actually accept that the person is gone and they aren't coming back.
  • Grief - the most unpleasant stage, where depression is experienced and you feel the pain of grief. This can include intense conflicting emotions and feelings that can be extremely difficult to understand. This stage can be extremely dangerous in that it can make you feel isolated and lead to irrational suicidal thoughts and feelings.
  • Adjusting - changing yourself and trying to "get on" without the person who has died, you haven't moved on but you are trying to continue and go on with varying amounts of success. Often it's the simple things that can get you worked up and upset, often this stage is mixed somewhat with the above stage.
  • "Moving on" - it can take a long time, years, to reach this stage. Putting less energy and bother into grief and looking to other things in life - to the future. You never "get over it" but you can move on to a degree. Similarly, the line between this stage and adjusting can be vague - you might find yourself moving on without realising.
The stages and bereavement in general is different for everyone, so if you don't strictly conform to these stages don't feel abnormal.

Chapter 2: The Help You Need

Section 1: Talking CAN Help
You don't need to tell me how scary it can be to stand up and say that you need help, or to go to see a counselor. But it could be the best choice you ever made. The fact is everyone who suffers from grief can't just shrug it off, and it helps a lot to have someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on. It can be very difficult to get on without that, How do you get that help, though? Well truth is there is loads of help available for you! You can call, email, go in or IM loads of different people who want to help you.

Section 1.1: Getting help on Online
Some of the best help you can get is online - if you're too afraid to show yourself in real life, VirtualTeen can be an as-good or even better substitute. You never have to meet anyone, feel pressured to do anything or are made to feel uncomfortable. There are literally hundreds of people here who have been through similar or the same as you. Hundreds of people who can relate and want to help you. Just post a thread in this forum and you'll find lots of people giving you support instantaneously. Alternatively, you can check a member's profile for IM details - they'll almost always want to help you. Having support on instant messenger such as Skype or MSN can be really great as you can talk to some just about whenever you want.

Section 1.2: Going to see a Counselor
Seeing a counselor in real life can seem daunting or scary, but it really isn't! These people are non judgmental people who only want to help you - they'll have already seen hundreds of people who are going through similar situations to you. Getting everything off your chest to someone in real life under a relaxed environment can help you massively to not only come to terms with things but to develop self confidence again. If you can't find a counselor near to where you live, shoot me a PM I will do my best to find one. Similarly, there are hundreds of charities and organisations set up to help people by phone. You can call in anonymously and confidentially and get the help you need. Once again, if you need any numbers PM me.

Section 1.3: Talking to Friends and Family
Talking to people you don't know or trust can seem to daunting for some, and talking to people you already know can seem a lot better. Don't be afraid to talk about those who have died - this can only make things worse, and make you feel isolated and lonely as you build it all up in your head. Talk to close family members or friends about it if you can, don't be afraid to cry. Let is all out and you'll feel a lot better afterwards, you may find that your friends can offer support that no one else can - usually a hug.

Section 2: Coping with Grief
Coping with grief can be extremely difficult or for some seemingly impossible. There are many things you can do to try to help you, and take your mind off the loss. It won't take it away, but it will make things better. Don't feel that you're not respecting your loved ones because you're trying to get on - this is what they would have wanted, they wouldn't want you to spend copious periods of time fretting over something you can't change.

Section 2.1: Anniversaries and special occasions
That first Christmas without them can be the hardest, or their birthday. Many people bereaving put flowers on graves and pay tribute to loved ones at these times, as a sign of respect that gives them some good feeling and relief from it. Sometimes if you can't take your mind off something you may as well make the best of it. Do something you remember the person by - watch their favourite film, go to a special place they liked or look through some of the things that remind you of them. It's not easy, no. You might choose to try as much as you can to have a normal day and not think about it at all - it depends on who you are and how you feel, don't feel that you have to do something that you don't want to.

Section 2.2: Celebration and appreciation, not reservation
Remember them not for their death but the time they spent alive - the light and joy they brought to you and the world. Remember them for the good, it's what they'd have wanted. Celebrate their life and what they achieved, appreciate what they did and their life. Don't constantly focus on the bad, as it will only make sense. Try to smile as you think about all the funny moments you spent together. Mixed emotions are normal, and OK. It is OK to feel sad, but if you can try to lighten up your mood by thinking of the better things it can help you cope with grief a lot better than otherwise.

Section 3: When You Need Serious Help
Sometimes grief can get to the point where it becomes so extreme that you need to get serious, professional help and can no longer go on the way you are. If you experience any of the following, take actions such as seeing your GP or calling a hotline.
  • You neglect or punish yourself. If you ever turn to self harming, binge or excessive eating, not eating at all or abuse drugs you should instantly see a professional. These situations can get even more serious and it is vital that you get the help you need. We can help you at VT, but it will always help more if you see your GP and s/he can give you the help and support that you require.
  • You contemplate or attempt suicide. Life is so worth living, and your loved ones would never want you to die. Don't waste it all, don't do something that you would regret - if not for you now but for those that love you. And so many people love you. If you ever seriously contemplate suicide, call a hotline immediately. It is absolutely vital you get the help you need, before you do something awful.
  • You feel you can't go on after a very long time. If you feel hopelessness or the urge to give up on life without the person you love, you should try to get counseling or talk to someone as soon as possible. This can often deteriorate and can stop you progressing in life for a long time. Don't give up on yourself, keep going and eventually you'll push yourself out.
  • Your emotion is so intense that you cannot function in other parts of your life. If the feelings from grief are so extreme that you cannot live normally you require support and help. See your GP or a counselor as soon as possible to help you get back on track.

Thanks for reading. I hope that this helped you.

I hope to further work on this soon, there are some things I wish to add.

Last edited by Donkey; December 20th, 2011 at 10:54 AM.
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