Whether a death is expected or not, we can never predict how we will react. So when a person dies, reactions within a family may well differ. While we may expect to be sad for a while, this is just one of a variety of feelings which may be experienced.

The first feelings will come with the news of the death. They may be feelings of disbelief, panic or complete numbness. Whatever they are, they tend to give way to a sense of being somewhat in control, and it is often observed at funerals that those closest to the person who has died conduct themselves with dignity and are considered to have been very brave.

Some people may hope or expect those who have been bereaved to get back to normal within a relatively short space of time e.g. to return to work, to plan another baby, to look for another marital partner, etc. Most often though, the period of mourning has only just begun.

The months which follow may be filled with unfamiliar feelings of considerable intensity: rage, misery, worry or perhaps an unreal sense of having no feelings at all. At times you may feel fine; at others you may feel that the whole process is beginning again. Gradually the difficult times will lessen, the feelings will be more shallow, and the patches of relief and respite will lengthen, until at last you feel something of your true self again.

It is important to remember that the death of a close family member impacts on the family as a whole and on it's individual members. Different family members may react in very different ways and at different times, which can increase anxiety and may be a source of conflict. Responses and reactions will be as variable as the personalities within a family, and so will the ways in which individuals grieve. It is important to recognise these differences and allow people to grieve in their own way.

Particularly challenging for all concerned can be a sudden and unexpected death, deaths for which there seem to be no reason, the death of a young child perhaps, or a suicide.

Death is a natural part of life. Somehow in our society this fact tends to be forgotten, and we may hope and pretend that it won’t happen in our family. When it does, whilst we may never forget the person who has died, we will in time be able to find a way to live with what has happened and enjoy positive experiences once again.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling to support a child or young person following the death of someone they love, please call us. We'd be happy to help.