Bereavement and loss are things which we all experience at some time in our lives. However, grief expresses itself in many different ways, often with powerful, frightening and confusing feelings.

If the death has occurred in a particularly violent or unexpected way these feelings may be even harder to bear.

It is very common for such feelings to ebb and flow over a very long period of time. Those around us may say “you should be over this by now.”

Although no two people’s experience will be the same, listed below are some of the common feelings which you may experience at different times in your grief.

Shocked disbelief

You may find yourself being very calm and rather detached. Conversely you may feel completely at sea. Both are perfectly usual reactions.

Being unable to accept the loss

This often involves what has been called searching behaviour, which means that at some level you are trying to deny that the death has occurred, and in so doing you might find yourself making mistakes which can be worrying.

For example, thinking that you have seen or heard the dead person, or laying his/her place at the table. You may even find yourself at odd moments of the day actually looking for him or her. Again, this is perfectly usual.

Anger and guilt

You may be wanting to ask the question, why has this happened? And why has this happened to me? It is common to wish to find blame for it either in yourself, in others or even with the person who has died, and this can lead to powerful feelings of anger and guilt (or sometimes both).

Despair and depression

There may be times when you lose all interest in living and feel that there is no point going on. You may even question your own sanity and think that you are going mad, that no-one else could possibly experience these feelings, which, though painful, are a common experience.


Usually this occurs with the passage of time and, when the pain has eased somewhat, you may find yourself being able to remember without feeling so overwhelmed. This can be a time for you to begin life again, maybe to renew old interests and take up new pursuits. This might seem disloyal to the person who has died, but what has happened in the past is always a part of you and is not affected by you enjoying the present, or planning for the future.


As well as going through some of the reactions outlined above, you may also experience many other feelings (e.g. panic, relief, fear, self-pity).If you do experience these emotions you may feel you ought to hide them, but they are an important part of your bereavement and it can be valuable to share them with a sympathetic

You may find yourself feeling hurt and convinced that some of your friends are avoiding you. Unfortunately, this often happens and can be due to embarrassment – “not knowing what to say.” It may be up to you to take the first step to let others know you need them and their support.

It is sometimes very tempting to feel that life would be more bearable if you moved house or quickly disposed of possessions or refused to see people. There is a very common urge to avoid painful things.

However, this can make things worse and such decisions must be given great thought. Bereavement is a time of very painful emotions, but it is important to experience these to the full in order to build your life again.

It is not uncommon, as well as feeling mentally taxed, to feel physically run down; to find it difficult to eat, sleep and so on, but eventually these symptoms should recede.

If you feel worried about any of your feelings and would like to speak with someone, you may find it helpful to contact the Barnet Bereavement Service.