Sunderland Echo - - Information -

os­ing a loved one can be a dev­as­tat­ing blow, and the emo­tion which en­sues some­times be­comes over­whelm­ing.

Grief can be a very pow­er­ful feel­ing, and es­pe­cially in the early weeks or months af­ter the death of a much-loved part­ner, friend or fam­ily mem­ber, it can lead to a whole range of neg­a­tive re­ac­tions in­clud­ing lethargy, self-ne­glect, in­abil­ity to con­cen­trate, and anger taken out on other peo­ple.

All this is a nor­mal re­sponse to be­reave­ment, and there is no time-frame for the griev­ing process. The loss may con­tinue to per­me­ate the be­reaved per­son’s life long af­ter it hap­pens, but the ex­treme feel­ings and in­abil­ity to cope alone will usu­ally come to a nat­u­ral end with the help and sup­port of other fam­ily and friends.

But if be­reave­ment re­sults in soli­tude, or the ex­treme feel­ings go on for a very long time and leave the griev­ing per­son un­able to func­tion nor­mally, it is im­por­tant to seek help.

It is all too easy for grief to spi­ral into de­pres­sion, which can be­come a far more wide-reach­ing prob­lem.

Sor­row, anger, con­fu­sion and empti­ness are all nat­u­ral re­ac­tions to death, but af­ter a while the feel­ings come and go, of­ten trig­gered by a smell, a sound, or a sud­den mem­ory. De­pres­sion per­vades ev­ery part of life and can be de­bil­i­tat­ing.

Plenty of help is avail­able, and if grief is threat­en­ing to be­come un­man­age­able, it is im­por­tant to seek it sooner rather than later. Weight loss, in­som­nia, dif­fi­culty with sim­ple ev­ery­day tasks, ex­cess al­co­hol con­sump­tion or drug use, reck­less or vi­o­lent be­hav­iour, or, at worst, thoughts of sui­cide are pos­si­ble rea­sons for seek­ing ad­di­tional sup­port.

The fam­ily doc­tor or spir­i­tual ad­viser can be an in­valu­able source of in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal sup­port groups and be­reave­ment coun­selling. Al­ter­na­tively, de­tails of na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Cruse (www. cruse.org.uk), Macmil­lan (www.macmil­lan.org. uk) and the Samar­i­tans (www.samar­i­tans.org) are freely avail­able on the in­ter­net.

Cruse of­fers sup­port and ad­vice to any be­reaved per­son from trained vol­un­teers by phone or e-mail, or faceto-face.

They also run a one-toone coun­selling ser­vice specif­i­cally for chil­dren and young peo­ple who have lost some­one close; their web­site www.rd4u. org is de­signed to pro­vide both per­sonal sup­port and an out­let for grief for any­one be­tween 12 and 25 years of age.

The Macmil­lan or­gan­i­sa­tion spe­cialises in can­cer care, and pro­vides in­for­ma­tion and sup­port to fam­i­lies and friends of peo­ple who have died from can­cer.

The sui­cide of a friend or fam­ily mem­ber can be es­pe­cially trau­matic.

The Samar­i­tans are part of the Sui­cide Be­reave­ment Sup­port Part­ner­ship, which is made up of sev­eral na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions com­mit­ted to of­fer­ing ap­pro­pri­ate sup­port to those be­reaved or af­fected by a death by sui­cide.

The aim of all be­reave­ment coun­selling is to move the griev­ing per­son to­wards a point at which they are able to func­tion nor­mally again, and fo­cus on other things while re­mem­ber­ing the per­son they have lost without un­due dis­tress.

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