Bereavement care

End of life and palliative care

The death of a person who has been close to someone can cause great sadness, yet this is a common experience in the human life. Bereavement is the state of loss one feels when someone important to a person has died.  Bereavement can also be associated with other forms of loss such as deteriorating health, end of a relationship, loss of a long-term job.

Grief is a normal response to death. A person’s response to grief will vary depending upon the circumstances of the death, family context, and the support that they receive.

Symptoms of grief:

  • Crying spells
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in appetite
  • Inability to concentrate at work or school
  • Sorrow
  • Numbness
  • Anger (sometimes this may be directed at staff, other family, God, or the person who died)
  • Guilt

A bereaved person may experience many or few emotions and these may be very intense. They may also have mood swings. All of these are normal grief responses.

Grief and loss do not have a set timeframe. In normal grief symptoms will gradually ease as time goes on. Bereaved people, often with the help of their informal networks find it is possible to accept the loss and find a new way to live without the person in their life.

For some people feelings of grief and loss don’t improve over time, and they are unable to function and resume their every day life. This is known as complicated grief.

It is important that a person contacts their doctor or a mental health professional if they are still experiencing intense grief and difficulty in everyday function at least one year after the death of their loved one. 

Page last updated on: 26 Sep 2023