The death of someone we are close to is, perhaps, one of the most difficult and painful events we experience. Grief is a natural reaction following a death but it is a very individual experience and may be influenced by your culture and past experience. Bereavement can cause shock, disbelief, deep sadness, pain and distress. Also unexpected feelings such as relief, anger, guilt and panic. This emotional distress may cause great tiredness and other physical symptoms.
You may be finding it difficult to cope because of acute feelings of grief, or you may be coping with your grief by keeping busy or distracting yourself from painful feelings. You may swing between these alternate ways of managing.
Bereavement is a very individual experience and other people around you may be coping differently so it may seem difficult to connect with each other. You may also be trying to protect each other from distress. Some people feel overwhelmed and others try to control how they are responding. Also, some may feel very vulnerable and others find resilience in grief. This may depend on your experience and personality.
Many people question if they are ‘going mad’ when experiencing the range of emotions and trying to manage the practicalities of day to day living, this is a common feeling and can be seen as part of the grieving process. Children also grieve in their own way.
It may help you to talk about these feelings which can relieve some of the stress you experience, now or later, especially if you feel vulnerable. You may feel others are avoiding you. This may be because they are embarrassed and do not know what to say. You may need to let them know you want to talk about the person who has died and that you need their support. If you have work, children or other commitments, you may feel the need for space for yourself in which to grieve. Grieving takes time and it can’t be hurried or avoided. Though it may be difficult to believe it now, most people gradually begin to feel less raw and rebuild parts of their life again, though that life will be different.
Grief can be further compounded when we come to significant dates, birthdays, festivals, anniversaries etc which can heighten the absence of our special person. Bereavement support is accessible from a variety of sources within the City and people can refer at any point after bereavement; if and when, they feel that this support is required.
- Leeds Bereavement Forum
The Leeds Bereavement Forum works to develop and improve bereavement services in Leeds in a range of ways, including acting as a signposting organisation for people looking for support. It provides a directory of bereavement services, which lists the names and contact details of many services in the Leeds area offering various types of bereavement support.
These include counselling services, support groups and telephone helplines, geared towards a variety of social groups including adults, older people, children and teenagers, as well as other social and ethnic minority groups. Some services offer specialised support relating to a specific illness or factor involved in the person’s death – for example, cancer, motor neurone disease, suicide, AIDS, hepatitis B and so forthYou can also contact Leeds Bereavement Forum on (0113) 225 3975 between 9am and 4pm Monday to Thursday with any queries or for a copy of the directory.
- The Bereavement Benefits Service
The Bereavement Benefits Service at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) is designed to offer a quicker and simpler way of notifying the DWP about a death, and help the surviving person apply for benefits they may be entitled to. The service can be contacted on 0845 606 0265.
- Cruse – Bereavement Care
A major national organisation offering support for people who have been bereaved is Cruse – Bereavement Care.
They have a Leeds office and can be contacted on (0113) 234 4150 between 10am and 2pm, Mon, Tues, Thu and Fri. Cruse also offers a bereavement support drop-in service at the Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre on the St James’s Hospital site. The service is for people who have experienced any type of bereavement (not just for relatives of patients who were known to St. James’s Hospital) and it is held there between 4.30pm and 6.30pm, on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.
For bereaved relatives and close friends of patients who were previously referred to either Wheatfields Hospice or St Gemma’s Hospice, a range of services are offered, including telephone support, 1-1 support from bereavement visitors, formal bereavement counselling and drop-in support groups.
- Bereavement Advice Centre
The Bereavement Advice Centre website gives helpful information on many practical issues that need to be managed when someone dies. It supports and advises you on what to do next, in relation to – what to do first when someone dies / finding a funeral director / Probate and other legal procedures / money and tax issues / preventing junk mail to the deceased (through The Bereavement Register). Call freephone 0800 634 9494.