“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

– Thomas Campbell

How to Cope with Bereavement

There is no handbook on how to cope with bereavement. Grief is the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Following the death of a loved one there is a period of intense grief, mourning and loss. It is a devastating event that can turn our world upside down and changes our lives forever. This is the nature of bereavement. It is experienced by anyone who has ever loved.

Bereavement is a highly personal experience. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve and is different for everyone. Some may cry and others have dry eyes. How you grieve depends on various factors such as your personality and coping style, your life experience and your faith.

There is no set timetable for grieving. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually and cannot be forced or hurried.

Bereavement is painful and we need to talk about it. Ignoring grief does not make it better. In fact, it can make it worse. We need to know how to cope with bereavement or we risk grief’s damaging effects.

“Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” – Earl Grollman

Here are some tips on how to cope with bereavement:

How to Cope with Bereavement

Have Perspective

Death is something that will happen in the future. Hopefully, it is something that is not going to happen today, so there is time to enjoy some of what life has to offer and put death into perspective.

If you were given a wish to live as long as you wanted, what would you choose? There is a time that comes when death is a kindness and a pathway that leads to the end of suffering. Understanding that old age is associated with frailty and often suffering, allows us to view death with respect and helps reduce bereavement and bereaved people..

When someone is liberated from a body of suffering, this is a reason to celebrate. Bereavement is lessened by the relief of death.

how to cope with bereavement  glass ball

Move Towards Acceptance

We all have to face death one day, either as spectators and family members to those we love or as the main character.

Death brings complicated grief. The first line of defence against death is often denial: it won’t happen, it cannot be happening. Dame Kubler- Ross describes that loss and grief come in phases. It begins with shock and denial and quickly progresses through various levels and intensity of emotions such as anger, bargaining, and depression.

We often ask ourselves “How can this be happening?”, “Someone must be at fault” and “Why me?”. Hopelessness and sadness are normal feelings through this transition period. For some people, this wild and rapid – ride of emotions never end, and for others, there is calm water ahead.

It is important to not bottle your emotions. Do not to fight the rapids if you want to get to the calm waters ahead. Accepting death also means accepting grief and bereavement.

how to cope with bereavement  couple on beach

Aim For Peace

Bereavement is over-whelming and painful beyond measure. It is the realisation that you will never see or talk to your loved one again.

Not everyone gets to plan and prepare for their death. For some people, life is snatched away. With this comes great loss and bereavement. Those who get to plan for their death have an opportunity to make peace and this helps reduce bereavement for those close to them.

For Peace in Death and Bereavement:
• Aim for peace with your self
• Aim for peace with your mortality
• Aim for peace in your relationships
• Aim for peace with God

how to cope with bereavement feather

Do What it Takes

Preparing for death and dying takes courage.

When death is on its way, there are many practical things to prepare for like wills, funerals and advanced directives. However, preparing for death does not need to be filled with papers and official decisions. There are also various fun things to do like photoshoots and celebratory events that make dying a little easier. However, there are also the most difficult things to do, such as saying our goodbyes and imparting our final thoughts and blessings on those we love.

It is always crucial to do these early and in writing so that if time catches us off guard, we have something in place. Always do what it takes to say your goodbyes early and to regularly tell those close to you, that you love them. Make the time to keep in contact with friends and family. Hugs and Love are remembered forever.

Doing what it takes to make the landing softer for those anticipating grief and bereavement is a gift for those who remain and can make grief a little easier.

how to cope with bereavement mountain climbing

Go With The Flow

When the time comes to die, go where the flow takes you. Much like childbirth, death is a process. Fighting it will not make a difference. Instead, it uses up invaluable energy and causes more stress for all involved.

Work to be at Peace, to die in peace and rest in peace. Accept the time when it comes. Respect death and be thankful for the gift of life.

After death has occurred, there are many emotions associated with bereavement for those left behind. These include numbness, shock, anger, a daze, poor sleeping, poor thinking and emotional ups and downs. When experiencing grief it is also important to go with the flow. We may be masters of pushing these feelings away, but it will make grief all the more painful when that built-up wave of emotions come crashing down.

It may seem as if the pain and loneliness will never end. However, if you take one day at a time the grief that is felt gets better, often without realisation.

how to cope with bereavement  river and boat

Don’t Rush

There is no set handbook to managing bereavement. It is a deeply personal process that takes time to work through and process.

There is no timetable for how long we experience grief, or how we should feel after a particular time. A year may have passed and our emotions may feel as if everything happened yesterday, or it may feel like it happened a lifetime ago.

Grief cannot be rushed. Sadness and loss can be triggered by a multitude of everyday things- smells, sights, sounds, songs, conversations and even dreams. There will be moments of profound loneliness and sadness for those left behind. However, with time and without notice, we will feel ourselves moving forward.

It is never beneficial to rush these feelings. Studies have shown that bottling your grief is detrimental to both mental and physical health. A stiff upper lip will not help a broken heart. Although time can heal the feelings of loss and bereavement, it will always leave a scar.

how to cope with bereavement  wheelchair

Be Thankful

It may sound ironic but be thankful that loss is painful! It is a sign of a life well-loved and lived.

Be appreciative for the time spent together as families and friends. Whether it is good memories, silly situations or times of hardship, it is time spent none-the-less. Consider preserving their history and knowledge through photographs, music and writing.

A journal gives you a safe place to explore your jumbled thoughts and feelings. It helps find ways to remember a loved one and to record the ongoing journey through grief. Share your extraordinary day as though you were speaking to them. Share your Hardships.

Put Pen to paper. Often, it’s comforting to look back to see just how far you’ve come. Death shouldn’t be shameful. Celebrate the life that was lived.

how to cope with bereavement  holding hands

Getting Help

Bereavement and grief encompass a spectrum of feelings from deep sadness to anger and frustration. The process of managing loss varies dramatically from one person to another.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there are healthy ways to deal with the grieving process. If these emotions become too overwhelming before and after death, consider getting professional help.

Support Groups can prove to be incredibly helpful in dealing with bereavement. They help you realise you are not alone, gives you a safe space to freely speak, helps you move forward and gives hope for the future.

These provide safe and judgment-free spaces for you to fully grieve and express your emotions. There are many skilled people who can help navigate the rapids of bereavement. Don’t do it DIY.

how to cope with bereavement  family

How to Cope with Bereavement

Frief and Mourning is Personal

When it comes to dying and bereavement, we are no professionals. We learn how to cope with bereavement our own way and in our own time. It is impossible to defeat death. The pathway to an easier death is to surrender to it on the day it arrives.

Ancient Greek-mythology view the god of death, Thanatos, as a kind old man who liberates the soul of the dying from a suffering body. Thanatos is a God who gently transports the soul to the afterlife.

For the religious, there is compelling evidence to suggest that we continue to live after death. This may offer hope of family reunions and celebrations and, more importantly, to be with God.

What are your wishes for the afterlife? Does God feature in your bereavement plan? If not, please reconsider and get in touch at admin@dyingtounderstand.com

How To Cope With Bereavement: Community and Resources

bereavement papers

How to Cope with Bereavement

Green Page Directory

Our Green Page directory is aimed at providing a list of specialised services available in the community. Dying is a specialised skill and we hope that our directory will be of use to you. 

If you are able to contribute to our directory and want to be a partner with us, why not get in touch. We are here for the greater good.

bereavement online shop and card

Member Library and Shop

We have created free resources for our members to download and read. The exclusive material on the website is aimed at starting a discussion and helping those navigating the end of their life.

We admit that these are humble beginnings, but they are a valuable start. If you are not a member, please consider membership or feel free to purchase the items you want in the store.

Please browse and let us know what we are missing.

bereavement stickman video


Stickman is our spokesman when it comes to terminal cancer and the challenges of dying. Stickman is real about his diagnosis and prognosis and discusses his challenges and adventures without holding back.

You may not agree with everything Stickman has to say, so why not share your own perspective with us.

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