Mental health and wellbeing : Grief after bereavement or loss

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Symptoms of bereavement, grief and loss

Bereavement, grief and loss can cause many different symptoms and they affect people in different ways. There's no right or wrong way to feel.

As well as bereavement, there are other types of loss such as the end of a relationship or losing a job or home.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • shock and numbness – this is usually the first reaction to loss, and people often talk about "being in a daze"
  • overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
  • tiredness or exhaustion
  • anger – towards the person you've lost or the reason for your loss
  • guilt – for example, guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or did not say, or not being able to stop your loved one dying

These feelings may not be there all the time and powerful feelings may appear unexpectedly.

It's not always easy to recognise when bereavement, grief or loss are the reason you're acting or feeling differently.

  • Things you can try to help with bereavement, grief and loss

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  • Don't

    • do not try to do everything at once – set small targets that you can easily achieve
    • do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better
    • try not to tell yourself that you're alone – most people feel grief after a loss and support is available
    • try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve grief – these can all contribute to poor mental health
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    Further information and support

    You can find further information and support about:

    The GOV.UK website also has information about what to do after someone dies, such as registering the death and planning a funeral.

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    Where to get NHS help for stress, anxiety or depression

    Referring yourself for therapy

    If you need more support, you can get free psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS.

    You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service without a referral from a GP.

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    Find a psychological therapies service in your area

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    See a GP if:

    • you're struggling to cope with stress, anxiety or a low mood
    • you've had a low mood for more than 2 weeks
    • things you're trying yourself are not helping
    • you would prefer to get a referral from a GP
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    Call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if:

    • you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency

    111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to or call: 111

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    Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

    • you or someone you know needs immediate help
    • you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose

    A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.

    Find your nearest A&E

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