How Do We Cope When Someone Dies? by Nancy

A ‘bereavement’ is a period of sadness after someone has died. We ‘grieve’, or feel sad for the person who has died. Some people find it difficult to say the word ‘died’ so they might say ‘passed away’ or ‘gone to heaven’, or ‘no longer with us’. But they all mean the same thing. When we hear that someone has died it feels like the whole world stands still. Whether it was due to a long illness or sudden death, we want everything to go back to being normal but it can’t because things aren’t the same anymore.

Individual Grief

Everyone deals with death differently and it depends on three things: Who died? How they died? How well you knew them.

We are reminded that our lives are precious and it makes us feel a number of things. At first we may feel shock at hearing the news and even disbelief. Then a wave of sadness may wash over us and our feelings are intense and heavy. Some people may wish to talk about it whilst others may want to stay quiet. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to feel alone.

Once you hear the news you will have certain feelings and reactions which are completely normal and will vary from person to person.

The five stages of grief, (DABDA)


In this stage, individuals believe the death is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.


When the individual recognises that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at family and friends. They might say "Why? It's not fair!"; ""Who is to blame?"; "Why would this happen?"


The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise. For instance: "I'd give anything to have him back." Or: "If only he'd come back to life, I'd promise to be a better person!"


"I'm so sad, why bother with anything?" "I miss my loved one; why go on?" During the fourth stage, the individual despairs at the recognition of their own mortality. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time feeling sad.


"It's going to be okay." In this last stage, individuals accept that one day they will die but for now look to their future with a more positive, calm attitude.

You may feel like you’ve got lots of hurdles to jump over before you feel better. But by going through all of these stages it’s important to remember that it’s OK to be sad – having feelings makes you human.

Practical Activities of support, on your own or with friends


Telling someone how you feel, remembering, thinking about the good times you had. Listening to others share their memories and tell you how their feelings. Express yourself instead of bottling your feelings inside.


Celebrating memories by making a book of photos and stories, drawing pictures, writing a story, planting a special plant as a reminder.

Taking Care of Yourself

Keep your routine up, try and sleep, eat healthily, avoid things that "numb" the pain like drugs and alcohol. And allow yourself to feel, and express yourself, when you need to. Go for counselling if it feels right for you – but perhaps not straight away.

Celebrating and Remembering Their Memory

Constructive expressions of grief can include memorial activities such as displays of their work, or pieces inspired by them, and fundraising events like coffee mornings, sporting events, concerts and performances.

After a while you still think of the past, but not all the time. When the grieving process becomes less painful it’s time to get on with your life.
If you have been affected by grief and wish to share your experiences, or would like to ask Nancy a question, email write@visableinc.co.uk with NANCY in the subject line. All emails will be printed confidentially.


Created with images by Ian Parker - "Monarch butterflies backlit and blurred" • Benedicto de Jesus - "person walks towards water" • Volkan Olmez - "female head from behind" • Kristina Tripkovic - "untitled image" • sydney Rae - "untitled image"

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