Bereavement is the period of grief and mourning after a death. When you grieve, it's part of the normal process of reacting to a loss. You may experience grief as a mental, physical, social or emotional reaction. Here at FIAH we provide you with many resources to help you overcome your grief and prevent any interference to your daily life.
Bereavement is a distressing but common experience. Sooner or later most of us will suffer the death of someone we love. Yet in our everyday life we think and talk about death very little, perhaps because we encounter it less often than our grandparents did. For them, the death of a brother or sister, friend or relative, was a common experience in their childhood or teenage years. For us, these losses usually happen later in life. So we do not have much of a chance either to learn about grieving - how it feels, what are the right things to do, what is 'normal' - or to come to terms with it. In spite of this, we have to cope when we are finally faced with the death of someone we love.
We grieve after any sort of loss, but most powerfully after the death of someone we love. It is not just one feeling, but a whole succession of feelings, which take a while to get through and which cannot be hurried. We most often grieve for someone that we have known for some time.
In the few hours or days following the death of a close relative or friend, most people feel simply stunned, as though they cannot believe it has actually happened. They may feel like this even if the death has been expected. This sense of emotional numbness can be a help in getting through all the important practical arrangements that have to be made, such as getting in touch with relatives and organizing the funeral. However, this feeling of unreality may become a problem if it goes on too long. Seeing the body of the dead person may, for some, be an important way of beginning to overcome this.
Similarly, for many people, the funeral or memorial service is an occasion when the reality of what has happened really starts to sink in. It may be distressing to see the body or attend the funeral, but these are ways of saying goodbye to those we love. At the time, these things may seem too painful to go through and so are not done. However, this can lead to a sense of deep regret in future years. Soon though, this numbness disappears and may be replaced by a dreadful sense of agitation, of pining or yearning for the dead person. There is a feeling of wanting somehow to find them, even though this is clearly impossible. This makes it difficult to relax or concentrate and it may be difficult to sleep properly. Dreams can be very upsetting.
Some people feel that they 'see' their loved one everywhere they go - in the street, the park, around the house, anywhere they had spent time together. People often feel very angry at this time - towards doctors and nurses who did not prevent the death, towards friends and relatives who did not do enough, or even towards the person who has, by dying, left them.
Another common feeling is guilt. People find themselves going over in their minds all the things they would have liked to have said or done. They may even consider what they could have done differently that might have prevented the death. Of course, death is usually beyond anyone's control and a bereaved person may need to be reminded of this. Some people may feel guilty if they feel relieved that their loved one has died after a painful or distressing illness. This feeling of relief is natural, understandable and very common.
The state of agitation is usually strongest about two weeks after the death, but is soon followed by times of quiet sadness or depression, withdrawal and silence. These sudden changes of emotion can be confusing to friends or relatives, but are part of the normal process of grief.
Although the agitation lessens, the periods of depression become more frequent and reach their peak between four and six weeks later. Spasms of grief can occur at any time, sparked off by people, places or things that bring back memories of the dead person. Other people may find it difficult to understand or be embarrassed when the bereaved person suddenly bursts into tears for no obvious reason. At this stage it may be tempting to keep away from other people who do not fully understand or share the grief. However, avoiding others can store up trouble for the future, and it is usually best to start to return to one's normal activities after a couple of weeks or so.
During this time, it may appear to others as though the bereaved person is spending a lot of time just sitting, doing nothing. In fact, they are usually thinking about the person they have lost, going over again and again both the good times and the bad times they had together. This is a quiet, but essential part of coming to terms with the death.
As time passes, the fierce pain of early bereavement begins to fade. The depression lessens and it is possible to think about other things and even to look again to the future. However, the sense of having lost a part of oneself never goes away entirely. For bereaved partners there are constant reminders of their new singleness, in seeing other couples together and from the deluge of media images of happy families. After some time it is possible to feel whole again, even though a part is missing. Even so, years later you may sometimes find yourself talking as though he or she were still here with you.
These various stages of mourning often overlap and show themselves in different ways in different people. Most recover from a major bereavement within one or two years. The final phase of grieving is a letting-go of the person who has died and the start of a new sort of life. The depression clears completely, sleep improves and energy returns to normal. Sexual feelings may have vanished for some time, but now return - this is quite normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
Having said all this, there is no 'standard' way of grieving. We are all individuals and have our own particular ways of grieving.
If you have any questions about bereavement or are in need of bereavement support, please contact our office here.
Faith in Angels gave me all the comfort I needed and had a lot of compassion for all my family. I thank them for showing my mother their tenderness and love. They were my savior. I also want to thank Romeo who was by her side. Thanks for helping her receive Jesus Crist as her lord and savior. You guys are truly angels. My mother’s transition going into heaven was honorable and glorified.
I want to start off by saying I love Faith in Angels. Thank you for having a wonderful staff. They were always very supportive, had a positive attitude, and were always available. I appreciate them for always making the difficult moments we had easier for us, by guiding in every way. Don’t ever change that and keep it up the great work.
Faith in angels is awesome, loved every bit about it. Everyone was wonderful.
Faith in Angels gave me the opportunity to be by my grandma’s side at all times, without having to worry about other events that were occurring at the same time. Because of you, the last few days that I had with her were special. I was able to express her how I felt and hold her in my arms. She was special to me, and it was important for me to be with her and give her that comfort that she needed. In fact, Faith in Angels also was instrumental in giving my grandma the last the moments living on earth to be comfortable, peaceful, and honorable. I thank the staff for all the support they gave me during and after, while I grieved. I was so lucky to have all of you by my side.
I can’t say enough about the amazing, caring people working at Faith In Angels Hospice. Everyone at 'FIAH’ knew my father and the peculiarities of his care. After our father fell and broke his upper arm, his health began to fail quickly. My sister and I were lost in trying to figure out what to do next. He couldn’t go back to his assisted living facility and he wasn’t ambulatory or mentally capable of recuperating at a convalescent home. In my deepest despair, through God’s grace, I found the phone number of Elsie at Faith In Angels Hospice. I didn’t know what hospice was, or what it even meant. Elsie talked me through different options and what they meant for my father. She spent hours on the phone with me, helping me understand everything I could. Elsie and her team were able to help us find a board and care facility that was within our budget. I can’t stress that enough: within our budget. Anyone can find a solution if money is unlimited. We had a small budget and Dad needed a lot of care.
My impressions of the services were comparable to some of the best agencies we dealt with. The nurses were very responsive and caring. If it hadn’t been for them, it would have been very difficult for me on my own. Their help was invaluable, the agency that was sending 24 hour care. The care that they provided was very valuable, and they did an absolutely terrific job in assisting me with his care in his final days of illness. I will definitely be giving a contribution to FIAH, and highly recommend them.
We have been with FIAH since last October, and the staff is great. They take pride in their nurses, who are consistently punctual and thorough. Nicole is very caring; she comes over and sits with us, almost like family. The supply is always accounted for and any problems or issues are resolved right away. I love the care they give to my loved one, and I would highly recommend FIAH to anyone."