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You will probably experience a wide range of emotions when someone close to you, and who you have cared for in the last stages of their life, dies.
You may feel numb and shocked, however much you thought you had prepared for this moment. You may be deeply upset and at the same time relieved that now you can make plans for your own future, and perhaps also guilty that you are thinking of yourself at this time. All these are natural and normal emotions.
Coping with bereavement is a long process and you can expect to feel a variety of turbulent emotions for a long time. Even when your grief is no longer at its most acute, you may find that little incidents or memories suddenly bring back an overwhelming sense of loss.
If you’ve been caring for your relative or friend for a long time, it may seem quite frightening now to be free of those responsibilities, even if at times those same responsibilities were hard to deal with.
It’s probably a good idea to try not to do too much too soon. You may need time to get used to your loss and the changes that the death of the person you cared for has brought. If you make decisions in a hurry you may find, later on, that you regret not having waited until your grief had lessened - for example, before moving from the house you shared. Take time to look after yourself, perhaps giving yourself a few treats or a holiday, which you couldn’t have while your time was taken up with caring.
If you feel you need help in coping with your feelings at this time, there are a number of organisations that offer bereavement counselling.
Your doctor, or one of the other health professionals you have been dealing with, may be able to suggest a local service. If you are in touch with a priest or leader of your religious faith, they may be able to help you or suggest where you might find help.
Our Bereavement| section has help on how to cope with grief.
Content last reviewed: 1 March 2011
Next planned review: 2013
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