Managing Sudden Grief

No one is ever fully ready to experience loss, but sometimes it arrives on our doorstep unexpectedly. With that in mind, it could be helpful to have a few coping strategies on hand in case you or loved ones experience a sudden loss of a family member or friend. We hope it will help - even in just a small way - to know a little about what to expect and how to cope through the process of going through sudden grief. 

Important Things to Know

  1. Understand and accept that grief is intensely personal and we all feel it in our own way. 
  2. A sudden death is traumatic - in a different way to say a slow decline - and those left grieving may process feelings and responses at different times and in different ways.
  3. Shock - this can range from becoming withdrawn and distracted to shouting and screaming or overwhelming disbelief at the fact a loved one has passed away.
  4. You may also experience physical pain from headaches to stomach upsets and other physical symptoms of extreme stress.
  5. Regret and guilt - it's normal to have thoughts such as, "I could've/should've done more, I let them down" etc. These are all well-recognised symptoms of the grieving process.

Coping Strategies 

  1. Be kind to yourself. If you're feeling distracted, or overwhelmed, try to be as understanding with yourself as you would be with others and cut yourself some slack. 
  2. Don't try to hide your feelings - it's ok to cry, mourn and grieve. Holding in your emotions will only make you feel worse and more isolated.
  3. Even if it's virtually, talk to your friends and other family members about your feelings of loss and sadness - and recognise that due to the circumstances, they may be extreme, especially in the early days.
  4. Accept you may become very clumsy. In a state of trauma your brain is often not able to focus properly, and you may feel like you're in a bit of a daze, so do be aware that you may not be up to activities like driving or cooking.
  5. You may well need to tell your employer so that they can help support you through this.
  6. Do what you need to survive. Managing the early days of sudden bereavement is just about getting through safely. Ditch anything that doesn't need doing and enlist the help of friends or less directly connected family for things you don't feel up to.