Bereavement counselling and support services
Although everyone's personal reaction to a bereavement is different, most people experience some of the following emotional responses when someone close to them dies:
These emotions occur normally, however, some responses may be experienced for longer periods depending on the individual. The main initial responses to a death - even one that has long been expected - are disbelief, shock and anger. These may lessen in time and can be followed by a sense of guilt, depression, anxiety and despair. You may also feel an acute sense of longing for the dead person, hopelessness at the thought of their absence, loneliness and sadness at their loss or even a sense of relief that they are gone (which may, in turn, lead to feelings of guilt).
Some physical symptoms experienced in bereavement can be quite acute and distressing. It is important to realise that these are normal parts of the grieving process and will pass in time. Physical reactions may include:
- loss of energy and interest in life
- an inability to sleep or constant tiredness
- poor concentration and forgetfulness
- loss of appetite or compulsive comfort eating
- a "frozen" inability to cry or a tendency to continuously burst into tears
- nausea and/or diarrhoea
- headaches and unexplained body pains
Toddlers, young children, teenagers and adults all react to death very differently. It can be important to explain a death to children in a way that they can handle at their particular age.
Information for those affected by Bereavement is a publication produced by the Citizens Information Board. It provides information on dealing with the practical and material matters that arise following a death.
The Irish Hospice Foundation provides a website, BEREAVED.ie, that provides advice and information for bereaved people and those supporting them.
There are many bereavement services and support groups throughout the country, including those public, private, professional, voluntary, religious and secular. If you are religious, there may be pastoral care available through your local priest, order, minister, rabbi or congregation. You should make contact through the relevant place of worship.
Who to contact
Information on organisations providing bereavement support is available from the Child and Family Agency.