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Tips for dealing with bereavement

Losing someone we love is something most of us will have to go through at some point in our lives. Each experience is different and personal to us. But knowing how other people have dealt with it can be very helpful.

In this guide Royal Voluntary Service volunteer Carol shares her experiences of bereavement and the things that helped her to cope.

We hope that older people, their carers and families, find this information useful. Print this page to give to someone you know or use the share button on the right of this page.

Carol’s advice for coping with loss

Carol offers bereavement adviceIt was comforting for me to have photos of Pat everywhere, but it didn’t work that way for my daughter, Sharon. She coped by throwing herself into her work.

We both wanted to talk about him but we didn’t because we were frightened of upsetting each other.  How you feel is likely to change as the weeks and months go by.  I think it took me a while to accept my son’s death and then I asked myself a lot of questions – should I have seen something, should I have known, could I have done something?

There isn’t a blueprint for how to feel, you can manage your grief in your own way.
For a long time I didn’t want to see anyone.  I wasn’t very motivated, but then I got to a point where I knew that the situation had to change.
Carol and her friend share bereavement tipsLosing my son was a very different kind of grief to losing my mum. Again, I had a lot of guilt over whether I could have visited her more or told her I loved her more often. But she had lived her life and had had the joys of seeing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren so, eventually, I was able to accept her death. Pat’s daughter Charlotte gave birth to our first great-grandchild last year and it makes me so sad that Pat will never get to know his grandchildren and they will never get to know what an intelligent, funny granddad they had.
Don’t expect it to be the same this time if you’ve experienced bereavement before.
If it helps you to talk, find someone you can share your experience with.

It doesn’t have to be someone you know well. It can be easier to talk to someone who knows nothing about your situation. I couldn’t talk to my friends about Pat but it was much easier with Pam.

Your advice

I lived in Scotland at the time and I was too young to legally be able to attend the funeral. I didn’t realise it at the time but it meant I didn’t get closure after they died. I couldn’t talk to anyone about it and I carried a rage inside me.

Launne who lost both parents in a car accident on Christmas Eve, 1958 when he was just 14 years old.
I had a good friend nearby who visited me a lot which was very helpful. She has recently lost her husband so now I can be there for her. But it never goes away. I still talk to him and there are days when I say to him ‘why aren’t you here?’ Keeping busy helps and volunteering with Royal Voluntary Service means I can focus on other people, not just on myself.

Mary lost her husband Percy to a heart attack 27 years ago.
We had just bought a new house but hadn’t had a chance to move in. I dealt with it by throwing myself into the move; packing, sorting things out and creating my new home. He worked away for most of the year so I could tell myself he was just at work and he’d be back in a few weeks’ time.

Jill lost her husband, Ted, nearly two and a half years ago.

Please exercise your common sense when considering these tips and whether to take any of the steps that may be suggested in them.

The tips have been provided by members of the public who have contributed to our Royal Voluntary Service Nationwise campaign so whilst we hope you will find them helpful, we cannot make any promises about their accuracy or completeness and we don’t accept any responsibility for the results of your reliance on them.

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