We experience bereavement and loss as part of our lives from birth to death. Grief is painful but not an illness and the symptoms that grief may cause can sometimes be alarming. Bereavement is like a journey, which can at times be lonely, very painful and long. For some people, it may be difficult to accept the loss, and there may be a sense of denial about the reality of what has occurred. It is not uncommon to think you see or hear the dead person and it can take some time for the full realisation to sink in. For a long, long time you can feel very tired, lethargic, unable to make decisions, strained and physically run down. It may be difficult to eat or sleep. Grief is time-consuming and exhausting. It is not unusual to feel despondent and depressed. Many people lose interest in the things that they normally enjoy doing. You may experience feelings of helplessness and find it difficult coping with your everyday life. All these feelings are very natural.
You may also experience guilt, panic and anger – even anger at the dead person. Do not try to hide these feelings; try to share them with a sympathetic listener. Well-meaning friends may feel that after a few weeks you will be ‘back to normal’ but this is unrealistic. Other people may be afraid to speak to you because they are uncomfortable with loss, and/or they fear upsetting you. So they may avoid you which can be awkward and mean that you may have to make the first move. Let them know you need their support and the comfort of their friendship. It is tempting to think that if you change your environment you will feel better. But it is unwise to make big decisions about your life too soon. At first your grief will be with you wherever you are. Kind friends will want to distract you and ‘cheer you up’. You will also need times of quiet and aloneness and stillness to do your grieving. It is very tiring to be constantly pulled away from your true feelings and unless you do have time and space in which to feel your sadness, your journey of grief can be more complicated.
Feelings shift and change sometimes from moment to moment. You can have a good morning and a terrible afternoon as memory, daily routine, and emotions collide. There will be better days and then at times there may be setbacks. This is all part of the process of healing and coming to terms with loss, and all that loss encompasses.
Over time pain should ease and positive memories can provide comfort. When you feel ready it is important to enjoy life again and not to feel disloyal to the person that has died. Your grieving will be individual to you. It will take as long as it takes. It is important to allow yourself to put it aside even when sorrow remains. You will never put aside the memories and influence of the person you love.
What can we offer at EHRS?
We contact members of our community who have been affected by bereavement as a means to offer fellowship and a listening ear. We have a small group of bereavement visitors who are volunteers trained to provide support to those in our community who have been bereaved. In some cases, we may suggest referral to approved professional support. All our work is carried out in the strictest confidence. If after reading this article you or someone you know would like to talk to us, please contact Community Care on 020 8238 1013 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Community Care department co-ordinates Telenet, a telephone support system for those members aged 85 years and above, some of whom may be isolated and cut off from the community, particularly if they are housebound or find it difficult to get out. These phone calls are so important to every recipient and as a large community we aim to: increase contact and stay in touch with senior members of our community, and reduce isolation in the community.
We strive to keep in touch with these members and our Telenet volunteers phone their allocated members at least three times a year before major festivals and often more frequently and build a telephone relationship. Both the caller and the recipient get a great deal out of these relationships.
Would you like to join our team of Telenet callers?
We always need more Telenet volunteers and this is something you can do from the comfort of your own home at a time that is convenient to you. Please contact the Community Care department to discuss on 0208 238 2013/2015. We look forward to hearing from you!