Support in bereavement

Some landmarks on the way of your bereavement

The time of the death

The moment of the death of a loved one can be a big shock, a tearing moment, which is often felt more physically than mentally. Persons facing the death of a loved one speak about a state of numbness, a deep emotional shock that leaves them feeling helpless and sometimes speechless. If you feel guilty or face remorse, share it with medical teams or speak about it to your doctor: this feeling, can ease by asking for explanations on circumstances of the death of your loved one.


They embody a strong moment, full of emotions, which can seem unbearable because it confirms the final separation, but they allow goodbyes and to be surrounded with affection from others. Take the time to think about what matters most to you, to the way you wish the funeral of your loved one to go, as agreed with your beliefs and your wishes. Do not hesitate to seek for help.

Mourning time

It is a very particular time, a personal time of instabilities that take time and energy, as well as an inner turmoil that will make you fluctuate between moments of heavy pain and moments of calm. Those moments occur in a unique way for everyone. This work of mourning can be long and difficult. You have to give yourself time, be tolerant and patient toward yourself and others. Doing one’s mourning is not forgetting, it is about admitting that life is from now on living with the scar left by the loss of the loved one.

You will be confronted, as you go along, with different feelings:

  • Powerlessness and despondency: You may feel empty; you will feel like a robot and like you are only hanging on to life by the thread of habit.
  • Denial: Some people try to deny the terrible reality and this denial can be manifested by pretending that the loved one is still present. This period, which is generally temporary, allows a little time before facing a reality that is still too painful. It surprises some people and makes talking with loved ones more difficult.
  • Physical problems: you may suffer from a feeling of general malaise, insomnia, stomach ache, headache or loss of appetite… You may also feel slowed down in your movements and thoughts: your energy is turned inwards and all your thoughts are for your loved one.
  • Revolt and anger: Various feelings will run through you: a feeling of injustice in the face of the loss of your loved one, incessant questioning or the search for an explanation, or even for someone to blame Guilt: You may feel guilty and think incessantly about what you have or have not done. Many people consider guilt to be the biggest, longest and most complex pain. Talk about it with your loved ones and the medical team.
  • Daily suffering: Daily life will be full of small events that will awaken your suffering by reminding you of your loved one’s absence: returning to places still full of your loved one’s presence, seeing a happy family, family celebrations… Open up to your loved ones, seek comfort, and allow yourself to cry and be looked after. Some people feel they are regressing; this is not serious.
  • Loneliness and despair: In the grip of intense moral distress, you may feel hopeless, depressed, have no appetite for anything and dread the day ahead. Overwhelmed by your suffering, you may think you are going crazy and may want to die. All these feelings are a sign of the intensity of your pain and distress. Opening up to others is very important, but showing your suffering to others is not easy. Do not hesitate to ask for help from a competent person such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Your loved one has died, how can you go on living?

  • Give yourself the right to grieve, to express your sadness and to cry. You are not fragile nor abnormal: you are grieving
  • Accept that you feel limited and tired: mourning requires a lot of energy
  • Don’t isolate yourself, talk to those around you and see if you would rather talk about your loved one or take your mind off it
  • Take care of yourself
  • Find people and activities that make you feel good. Encourage these encounters and plan these activities
  • Don’t be too ambitious and set simple goals. Say, “I’m going to have a proper meal today” or “I’m going for a walk to the park” or “I’m going to swim for an hour” rather than “I need to get better”. Every little victory over sadness puts you back on the path of life.
  • Don’t let others tell you what to do: the people around you will think they are helping you by giving you lots of advice. Some will be appropriate, some will not. Remember that only you know what is right for you.
  • Postpone major decisions that could change the course of your life forever: changing jobs, moving house, getting divorced, going abroad. This is not the time to make decisions that you may regret later.

It is normal that at times you may not feel like talking about your loved one and enjoy being in a place where no one knows what has happened to you. Sometimes you will have a fleeting feeling of being happy again. Don’t feel guilty, because this does not mean that you are betraying your loved one

It is also possible that you will have more difficulties than you thought during your bereavement and that you will not find the help you were hoping for: ask your GP for help. Only he or she can decide which medication you need (antidepressants or sleeping pills). In addition, do not hesitate to consult a psychiatrist or psychologist. This does not mean that you are going crazy or incapable. It is normal to have difficulties in coping with a difficult loss and to need professional listening that is more emotionally neutral than that of a relative.

Children's bereavement

    Helping children deal with the death of a loved one:
  • Answer their questions simply, without trying to have all the answers.
  • Show children that death is a subject they can talk about.
  • Listen to what the child has to say: talk about the loved one, emotions, recognize and accept feelings, offer support
  • Talk about death without using euphemisms: avoid talking about sleep or departure, which would imply waking up or coming back.
  • Reassure children about their own situation and that of others around them.

  • Funerals
    Funerals can be a very supportive time for families to get together, just as they can be very distressing for young children. Organizing a time of recollection and remembrance with the family can offer an interesting alternative. If the child wishes to attend the funeral, make sure he or she is well prepared for the event and the emotions that will be expressed. Make sure they have the support of a calm adult throughout the day.