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The funeral has passed and suddenly there is nothing to do but think
about your bereavement. You still feel very numb but no longer can
you deny to yourself what has happened. The pain begins to become
unbearable and you feel that you do not want to go on. You may feel
that part of yourself has been torn away. You can't concentrate on
anything, you weep at the slightest thing and you begin to feel that
you are going mad.

These words describe some typical feelings experienced by newly
bereaved people. I have based them on my own personal experience
of grief and on the experiences of over 500 bereaved
people that I have met in my role as a bereavement counsellor.

However, this may not match your own experience. If your loved one
has experienced a long and difficult illness you may feel a huge sense
of relief at their passing, and your relief may be acconpanied by huge
guilt that in some way you are 'glad' that they have died. If the person
that has died had been suffering from dementia you may feel that you
really lost them long before their death. If your relationship with the
deceased was sometimes difficult then you may experience much
confusion, guilt and anger.

The person you have lost may have died very young; well
before their time, and you are grieving not just for your loss
but for the life they will never have, for the children they will
never see growing up. If you have lost your own child you
will be struck by how against the natural order of things such
a loss feels. You feel angry at the unfairness. You ask "Why me?"

Whatever your loss, your grief is unique to you. The only rule
is that there are no rules; everyone grieves differently and
nobody should tell you how to do your grieving. For some
people grief lasts a long time, perhaps many years. Other
people adjust and finds ways of coping with their loss very
quickly. Some people continue to need little rituals to help
them get used to their new life, such as keeping their loved
one's dressing gown in the bedroom and their shoes in the
hall. Follow your instincts, do what you need to do. Resist
friends and relatives who tell you what's best for you, however
kindly their motives.

Not everyone cries. Not everyone needs to and it doesn't
mean that you loved them any the less.

Gradually the very worst of the pain begins to pass. You were
not going mad. You find that you begin to have the occasional
good day. The good days get closer together and then start to
equal the bad days. Then the bad days get further apart, until
the time comes when you can have a new relationship with the
deceased, a relationship based on love, and with a gentle
sadness which replaces the pain. You don't forget them, but
you have adapted to a life without them.

Gradually the very worst of the pain begins to pass. You were
not going mad. You find that you begin to have the occasional
good day. The good days get closer together and then start to
equal the bad days. Then the bad days get further apart, until
the time comes when you can have a new relationship with the
deceased, a relationship based on love, and with a gentle
sadness which replaces the pain. You don't forget them, but
you have adapted to a life without them.

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