Bereavement - A mess of feeling

Question Why do I feel so angry?

“I feel bored and ‘itchy’ all of the time, but at the same time I have no interest in anything, no energy to do anything. It’s really annoying and frustrating.”Dave
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Sometimes when someone dies we can feel very angry, irritable or moody. Things may now get on your nerves that wouldn't have before. You might hate the people around you, even in your family, or feel jealous of people who look happy. You might be getting into a lot more trouble at home or in school. You may have people say “What's got into you?” This can be hard because not only are you feeling bad, but the people around you may not understand what’s really going on either. 

Just remember that this is perfectly normal – not pleasant, but definitely normal. It's easier to be angry sometimes than to say 'I'm really sad” or “I’m upset, I just need some space.” Did you ever get so angry that you ended up crying? This is why. Underneath your anger is usually sadness or pain. 

quoteSometimes you blame yourself. Did you cause the person to die? Was it because of something you thought, did or said? The short answer is no – death has many causes but is never caused by the way you think or behave. However, feeling this can make you angry with yourself and everyone around you. 

quoteSometimes you feel angry because no-one explained to you what happened. It's hard to make sense of something as huge as death, even harder when you haven't been told the facts. Or maybe you feel like the adults around you are not including you in decision-making, that they don't listen to you or that they dismiss your ideas and feelings because of your age. You may hear things like ”Ah they're young, they'll bounce back.” Perhaps they are too wrapped up in their own feelings of loss to really notice yours. It's natural to feel very angry and rejected when this happens.

Question Why do I feel so guilty? I regret things I did/said.

quoteWhen someone dies it is very normal to have regrets and maybe to think “If only I'd been there", "If only I hadn't gone out", "If only I'd been nicer". Sometimes when you are alone, especially at night, these thoughts can fill your mind and you can forget the times when you did your best. If this happens, it might help to think of times when you were together having fun, laughing, planning and talking together. Remember that none of us are nice to everyone all the time – that's not normal! The person who died knew that too.

 

It's also common to feel guilty about arguments you had with the person who died, about times when you weren't there because you were out having fun with your friends, about something you forgot to do or say, or a time when you weren't as nice as you could have been. Maybe you refused to meet them because you were just too busy.

Sometimes, when a person has been sick for a long time and it has been very stressful, those left behind can feel guilty for feeling a bit relieved that “at least it's all over now”. Try to remember that having regrets and sometimes feeling guilty are just part of the grieving process. Not one of us is perfect so we all have regrets at some point; that's normal. 

Be gentle with yourself

QuestionWhy am I so confused all the time?

quote“Everything is wrong, it’s all wrong. If my Dad was here it would be ok.” Megan

 

You may feel muddled about the way everything in your life has changed. Different people may be looking after you; they will do things differently and nothing feels the same, looks the same or even smells the same any more. Confusion can also mean that you suddenly find it hard to do things that came easily before. There may be some times when you feel like laughing or giggling which can be awful if others are sad and everybody else is still thinking about the person who has died.

You may be confused if you find that you are not missing the person who died as much as other people in the family and that can make you feel that you didn't care. Then suddenly you find that you miss them terribly when everyone else seems to be forgetting. Our feelings can swing like that and even if you feel crazy, you definitely aren’t!

Sometimes all you want is to go out and be with your friends as though nothing has happened. This is natural. If this is how you feel, then do it!

Question Why do I feel so lonely?

quote“My heart is broken every single day. Some days I just deny that because it’s too painful.” Orla

 

Loneliness can be ever-present, or can come and go depending on where you are, who you are with and what you are doing. Generally, there are particular times of the day that are harder than others – maybe it's dinner time and there is an empty seat at the table; maybe it's coming home from school to an empty house; maybe it's not having that person to talk to when you need them any more. The list of lonely situations is probably endless.

quote One way of dealing with this is to fill your spare time by being with friends, going out to other people's houses a lot and being with their families. Friends are very important; they can never replace the person who has died but they can help fill some of the lonely times. Finding someone to talk to about the person who has died helps fill this lonely space; trying to pretend that they never existed just makes it worse.

So, whatever your feelings are when someone dies, they're natural for you at that time, whether they are sadness, numbness, worry, fear, anger, guilt, regret, confusion, loneliness or something else. It can help to talk to someone you like and trust.

Question Should I still be feeling like this after a year (two years etc)?

“My Dad has just moved on and met someone else. He doesn’t give a shit about Mum any more. I’m the only one who does. I thought last year was bad after she died. I had no idea what bad was back then.” Brian

 

Emotional wounds due to loss require time to heal but they will heal and eventually things will return to something that might feel normal, although certain things may never be the same again.

There is no right and wrong in terms of how you feel and there is no timescale – grief can come and go.

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