The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Self care

When someone has died

Grief is an individual experience. No one can tell you how to feel or what to do. You may find some of the information below useful or you may feel it does not apply to you.

These are some possible reactions but there are as many ways of experiencing grief as there are people.

Feelings you may experience

Grief can make you feel many things. Sadness, anger, guilt, fear, relief, exhaustion. You may feel angry at the world, or at the person who has left you by dying. You might feel relieved that they are no longer suffering from their illness. You might feel afraid that you could die or that other people you love will die too.

All of these feelings are natural. The death of someone close to you is an intense experience and you can feel lots of different emotions about this.

Physical Reactions

Sometimes people react physically to their grief. You may feel as if your heart is racing, feel sick, or be unable to concentrate. You might feel like you are having the same symptoms as the person who died or worry that you have the same disease. Again, this is a common way to feel. If this is something that is worrying you, go and talk to your GP.

Looking after yourself

Try to eat regular, healthy meals. If you have no appetite, try to eat easy healthy snacks. You might have trouble sleeping, try to do what normally helps you sleep better.

Some people find medication from their GP helps, but others find this does not work for them. It is important to remember that medication is likely to be a short term solution.

Find someone to talk to; this might be a friend or family member, or someone from a bereavement support group. There are lots of organisations in Leeds who can support you; see the bereavement support tab on the left hand side of this page. This could be in a group or with just one person, depending on what you prefer.

Whoever you talk to, express your feelings, or, if you don’t feel like it, just ask them to sit with you. You know best what will work for you.

Try as well to ‘take a break from your grief’; go for a walk, go for coffee with a friend or do something you enjoy. Treat yourself. It is not betraying the person who has died to do this.

In the future

When someone dies it can change a lot of things in your life. Most of the time, people grieve at their own pace and eventually feel able to enjoy life again, although in a different way. The grief will always be there, but there are other things in their life as well.

It is important to feel whatever you are feeling, but sometimes you might need a bit more help. This is nothing to be ashamed of, the death of someone close to you can have a huge impact on your life. If you feel hopeless, that your situation will not improve and you are struggling, consider going to your GP, or contact Leeds Bereavement Forum. They can advise you on the best kind of bereavement support for you. Remember there is no one way to feel and no set time period after which you should be fine again, but there is help available if you need it.

Written by Helen Syme Bereavement Nurse. Reviewed August 2020, review date: August 2021