Grief and Loss

Bereavement is the experience of loss and the process of grieving following the death of someone close.

Grieving is as varied as individual people.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

There is no timetable for grief. People carry their grief with them through the rest of their life. We adjust to a life without important people, but we don’t forget them or lose our connections to them.

Grief touches all aspects of a person’s life. In the weeks following a significant loss people may experience a wide range of unpredictable reactions and responses.

Physical reactions may include sleepiness or inability to sleep, loss of appetite or seeking comfort in food, being full of energy or barely able to move

Emotional responses might include sadness, anger, numbness, anxiety, relief,

People may behave in ways that are out of character. Use of alcohol or other substances or other risk-taking behaviour may occur.

Grief often calls our spiritual beliefs into question. ‘Why did God let this happen?’ or a faith may become a strong comfort. Finding meaning in the life of the person who has died and their relationship with the people left behind is an important part of grieving.

How people relate to others may change through grief. They may become withdrawn, or very dependent on having other people around them all the time.

Thinking can be disrupted. Often people worry about being more forgetful or being unable to concentrate on anything.

People who are grieving usually just need others just to be there and to provide practical help if needed, (cooking a meal or doing some laundry), to not judge the person or their situation, not offer advice or compare their own experiences. Listening is the most important and useful thing that others can do for someone who is grieving.

If you are offering support to a grieving person, take care of yourself too. Get enough rest and time out so that you can give them your attention when they need it. Find someone you can talk with in confidence. Be patient – grieving can take a long time, but with the support of people who will listen and show they care, gradually people will adjust to their loss.

More Information

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement has a range of excellent resources you can download to read. There are tips about how to support people who are grieving – for employers, for friends and workmates. There is information about how to support particular groups of people – children and teenagers, bereaved parents, trauma survivors.

Walking Through Grief groups are walking groups that operate around Tasmania. WTG offer mutual support for people who are experiencing grief through the death of a family member or friend.

Bears of Hope Pregnancy and infant loss support.

Sids and Kids Dedicated to saving the lives of babies and children and providing bereavement support.

The Compassionate Friends Victoria Supports family after the death of a child.

Beyond Blue Help for people experiencing grief and loss.

Bereavement Care Network Improving co-ordination and strengthening partnerships to support the delivery of bereavement care by connecting people; identifying services; and promoting education and support for people involved in bereavement care.