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Managing Grief

Grief is our way of reacting when we lose someone important to us. There are five stages of grief. You may not experience the stages in order and it is completely normal to move back and forth between stages, or to skip stages.


This guide is to help you during your difficult time, so that you understand what you are feeling.

Stage One: Denial and Isolation
Blocking out reality at this stage:
  • You may not want to face the facts about what is happening.
  • At times, you may want to spend a lot of time alone, because you do not want to deal with the world outside. This is your natural reaction to a painful time. It is your way of coping with the pain and loss.
What to do: Get involved in the practical matters after your loved one's passing. Be active in arranging the funeral and talk to those who come to pay their respects. Communicate with your other family members or friends as much as possible. You do not need to force yourself to be cheerful if you do not feel like it.
Stage Two: Anger
Blaming others or yourself for what happened at this stage:
  • You may blame and/ or argue with doctors, healthcare team or other family members.
  • Sometimes, you might even get angry with complete strangers, or feel that the whole world is against you.
What to do: Find out as much as you can about your loved one's death. Ask the doctor to explain to you again about your loved one's illness. Give yourself some time to accept what is happening.
Stage Three: Bargaining
Bargaining is known as the 'if only' stage:
  • Bargaining happens when you feel helpless, and you want to know if there is something you could have done differently.
  • You might reproach yourself, "If only I had been more patient," or "Maybe we should have gone to another doctor." This is very common among caregivers.
What to do: For now, you can accept that this is a natural part of grief. Do not make any important decisions based on your feelings at this point. Just try to be patient and work through and understand the feelings. At this stage, it is important to communicate with your closest family and friends.
Stage Four: Depression
Feeling a great sense of sadness about everything stage:
  • You might feel that there is no hope and you cannot move on
  • Loneliness sets in. You might even worry about your own health and be afraid that you might also fall seriously ill.
What to do: Take time to grieve about your loved one. Spend some time remembering him/ her, and talk about good memories with your family and friends. You do not need to force yourself to cheer up, because it is normal to feel sad. Express your feelings to those closest to you.
Stage Five: Acceptance
You will come to accept what has happened at this stage.
  • You will come to terms with the situation and accept your loss. This does not mean that you will suddenly become very happy. You may still feel sad. It is just that you are able to deal with your sorrow better.
What to do: Try to take more interest in everyday activities. This will help to replace some of the painful memories.




COPING WITH GRIEF

  • Get enough rest and sleep: If you cannot sleep well at night, have some quiet time and read a book or listen to music.
  • Carry on with your usual activities as much as possible. They will help you to adapt better and will take your mind off your pain for a while.
  • Surround yourself with loved ones: Share memories about the deceased and do not be afraid to laugh at funny moments that you have shared.
  • Avoid quick fixes: Many people turn to alcohol, overeating and other addictions during grief. Although they may seem to help, they will actually make life more difficult in the long term.
  • Try to be open and accept help: It will help you to avoid becoming too tired.
  • Take comfort in a support group or in your faith: Attending support group sessions can help you communicate with others in the same situation. Prayer and meditation can help you feel better.
  • Get creative. Write a poem or create a painting to express your feelings and you will be able to cope with your loss in a healthier way.

KNOW WHEN TO GET HELP

There is a difference between grief and depression. Depression can put you and your health at risk, especially in a long term.

If you experience any of the symptoms of depression as listed in this page, see your doctor or visit a counsellor.


SEEK HELP

You can look for counsellors specialising in grief, loss and depression.

It is important to learn to care for yourself despite grieving. To learn about other mental wellness, click here.

NEED MORE HELP?

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Handling grief after your loved one is gone.
Managing Grief
Handling grief after your loved one is gone.
Managing Grief | Agency for Integrated Care Singapore