Be of good comfort - Understanding and coping with bereavement
Death And Beyond


Lonely Questions
What is Life?
What is death?
Death and God

Souls and spirits
in the Old Testament

If there is a God why does He allow suffering?
Souls and spirits in the New Testament
Hell fire examined
Can the dead speak to us?
Resurrection hope
Commonly asked questions
‘Be of good comfort’
Understanding and coping with bereavement



When someone special dies, someone you have shared your life with, or you lose a child, it is a life-changing experience. It brings deep distress and grief, and makes enormous demands on the strength of mind and body. Grief is a time of severe stress that affects you physically and mentally. It is good to recognise this, because you will tire more easily and lack energy to cope.
Sometimes friends expect you to be strong and get over it in a week or two, but it is not like that.

They tell you to stop crying and keep busy; they point to someone they knew who had everything straightened up and sorted out almost immediately and then got on with life. This sets a kind of standard for grieving and, when your personal experience does not match up to this, you feel that you must be losing your mind, and where you once coped well, now you seem totally inadequate as the paralysing tears and heartache continue to well up from inside you.

They are tears for which there is no real sense of relief because, even when the tears stop, the loss is still there, the pain is still there, and maybe the questions are still there. Friends say, in a well-meaning way, that time heals, but this seems hurtful and insensitive. Others seem to feel that if the one you are mourning for was not your spouse, but your father or mother or friend, then your grief is somehow not necessary.

Most people find other people’s strong emotions hard to cope with; they do not know how to react, and feel uncomfortable when they are with you. They feel it is all right for you to be angry for a short time, or to sob uncontrollably in the early days, but the people who are most admired are those who appear to shed barely a tear, and get back to work or to their everyday activities very quickly. This is strange, considering that death is something that everyone has to face at some time, but it is a fact that friends do not know how to cope with another’s grief. It is harder for family members, as they too are struggling with their own grief and, even in families, no two people will grieve alike. Of course, it also reminds friends and family that death is very close to each one of us and that is hard to confront.

There are various stages of grieving and it is helpful to know the general pattern that can be expected.

  • Initially there is shock, numbness and disbelief. A friend of ours told me she had to get everything sorted out quickly when she was not really feeling anything as she knew she would not cope sensibly later.
  • Very quickly, feelings of utter loneliness, helplessness, bereavement, sorrow, grief and a deep sense of mourning follow in quick succession, sometimes individually and wistfully, with a strong sense of longing that cannot be satisfied. Sometimes all these emotions come together like an overwhelming flood.
  • As the intensity of grief eases, stages of apathy and depression follow, but eventually signs of recovery can be recognised.
The first year is the most difficult, and it is certainly not the best time to make decisions about major things in life, like moving house or location, or closing up your home and moving to be with family, or remarrying. But it is different for each individual.

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