Coping with bereavement

Our generation hasn’t always been the best at talking openly about our feelings. Many of us were raised in the era of the stiff upper lip, when no matter what we faced, we were to keep calm and carry on.

The problem with this, of course, is that sometimes in life we face hardships are too overwhelming for us to simply just carry on. The death of a loved one, for example, can feel so utterly earth-shattering and the weight of grief can feel like it is too much to bear.

If you are currently trying to come to terms with a bereavement, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone, and that there are lots of things you can do to help you through this difficult time.

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Cherish the memories

As painful as it might be, it can be a great comfort to share memories, stories, and photos with loved ones to ensure those who have passed are not forgotten. Talk to your children and grandchildren about happy times together, their accomplishments, hobbies, their favourite places to visit, or songs that remind you of them.

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Prioritise self-care

When recently bereaved, we often spend so much time worrying about how the children and grandchildren are coping and adjusting to the news. But it is important to remember to focus on yourself and practice good self-care. Cook yourself something healthy and wholesome to eat, run yourself a bath, or treat yourself to a trip to the hair salon. Whatever it is, aim for one simple little thing each day as a start.

Accept that grief is not a linear journey

It is important to understand that there will be good days and bad days ahead. You may have a period of time when you feel you are coping well and holding everything together, then a certain song might come on the radio and a wave of grief will hit you once again. This is completely normal. Allow yourself to experience whatever combination of emotions you are feeling at any one time.

Get into a routine

It can be hard to find the motivation to even get out of bed on days when you are feeling particularly low. But getting up at the same time every day, going to the shop to get your daily newspaper, cooking lunch, or feeding the birds as part of a daily routine will help give you the satisfaction that comes from doing something productive with your day.

Strike a balance

Many people often suggest keeping busy in times of grief. By filling your diary with tasks, chores, and exercise, for example, the mind will be occupied, preventing you from ruminating on negative thoughts. That said, it is important to find a balance – overfilling your diary can potentially leave you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, so make sure you plan in plenty of periods of rest too.

Connect with nature

Nature has many healing qualities and there is much evidence to suggest that spending time outside can improve an individual’s sense of wellbeing. So try to get outside on a regular basis. Go for walk, feel the sun, breathe in the fresh air. Another great way to connecy with nature is to plant something, nurture it and watch it grow. It could be something as simple as a strawberry plant that you can look forward to coming into fruit, a beautiful sunflower to add colour to your garden,  or a symbolic tree of remembrance that will continue to grow and flourish for years to come.

Talk to an expert

As much as friends and family can provide valuable help during the grieving process, sometimes a professional can make all the difference. Your GP may be able to direct you to  a support group or a specialist grief counsellor who can offer a safe and confidential space to vocalise how you’re feeling, and offer guidance on how to navigate the days, weeks and months ahead.

Start a fresh chapter

A bereavement often signals an end to a particular chapter, but it could also spur you on to begin a new one. Perhaps there is a place you have always wanted to visit, a language you have always wanted to learn, or a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Life is short and this reality takes on a new profoundness when coping with a bereavement, so take the leap and embrace the new.

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Could your next chapter begin at Brio?

Brio Retirement offers a brand-new way of living – one where individuals can thrive within a vibrant community, embrace their independence, experience new things, keep active within an idyllic landscaped setting, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having care and support on hand 24/7. With a range of carefully designed homes available – including one, two, and three-bedroomed cottages, bungalows, and apartments – a new life of possibilities awaits in an age-exclusive Brio community.

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