Dealing With Death - Coping With the
By Susan Leigh
Death is an integral part of life and yet we are often
devastated when someone close to us dies. Even when a
person has been ill for a long time and we feel that we
should be prepared for the end it is still a shock and
an experience that needs treating with sensitivity.
When strangers die we are often upset too. The
outpouring of grief over the untimely death of Diana,
Princess of Wales, or of someone famous whom we have
never met, or the distress felt when someone young dies,
especially in an unpleasant way, is a way of uniting us
all as human beings in a period of mourning for our
Each of us experience loss and grief in different ways.
When a stranger dies we can empathise with other peoples
loss and perhaps also appreciate the pain we are feeling
as a reflection of how we personally experience loss.
With the death of someone young we will be also be
mourning the loss of a young life, the unfulfilled hopes
and dreams, as well as connecting and empathising with
the distress that the bereaved family are feeling. The
situation allows us to grieve for our own issues too,
but from a little distance as they are separate from our
own personal situation.
When someone close to us dies there may be things that
we regret, things that we did or did not say or do.
Plans that were unfulfilled. There may even be regrets
about the relationship. It may not have been as perfect
as we would have wished and there can be grieving over
the loss of what we could have had.
Animal owners are often devastated when their pet dies.
People who do not love animals often struggle to
understand how much a part of a family an animal can
become. Many people decide to never again have an animal
in their life, the pain of loss would be too much to
contemplate enduring again. Often though, after a period
of healing they realise that the love an animal brings
into a home is too special to forfeit experiencing
A period of healing is important in which to acknowledge
the pain and loss. Numbness may set in. We may not know
how we are feeling and that is fine. Many people feel
confused and wonder how they should be feeling. There is
no right or wrong way at this time. Just existing
through this time can be good enough. Trying to eat,
sleep and get through the days is often enough to
Some religions have a period of time where the bereaved
remain in their home and have everything they need
delivered to them. Friends, family and neighbours
provide support and company throughout this period. This
is a sensitive and supportive way of helping people
start to come to terms with their loss.
As time passes there can start to be a recognition of
significant days, anniversaries, things that would or
should have happened. Referring to the deceased in
conversations, reminiscencing, maybe having a memorial
service can be positive ways of remembering the person.
If they had a particular interest or a favourite charity
they supported it can be lovely to hold an event in
their honour, maybe even make it an annual or official
event or charity. It can be an important way of coping
with the pain and dealing with the death.
Writing a letter to the person can help if there is
outstanding guilt, unfinished business or regrets. Some
people find it helpful to take time and write down
everything they feel, wanted to say, maybe never had the
opportunity to say, both good and bad. Taking time over
this letter is important. Maybe even put it to one side
and revisit it later, re-read it, maybe re-write it
until it feels right and then perhaps undertake a
service or ritual to finalize those matters. It can help
any unfinished issues start to heal.
Everyone deals with death differently. There are many
factors that have to be taken into account that help
each person understand and cope with their pain in their
own way. Counselling can be an important part of this
process. The important thing is to be respectful of each
other's situation, feelings, issues and concerns at this
time and allow them to recover in the best way for them.
Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works
- stressed individuals to promote confidence and self
- couples in crisis to help improve communications and
- with business clients to help support the health and
motivation levels of individuals and teams
For more information see http://www.lifestyletherapy.net