Coping with grief

Grieving the loss of a loved one is one of life's most profoundly difficult experiences. There is no universal path for navigating grief - it is an intensely personal journey with its own unique emotions and challenges. This guide provides a compassionate outlook on the grieving process, from the range of normal feelings like denial, anger, depression, and acceptance, to practical tips for self-care and seeking support when needed.

It is important to know that there are no rules when dealing with grief. Your grief is personal to you, and you will deal with it in your own way. You may find yourself asking questions such as why do I feel this way, or why is it not getting easier? Again, there are no rules and over time, you can learn to cope with your grief in a better way.

Emotions are normal and can intensify at certain points after losing someone. This might be immediate, or it may be after some time. You may find that your emotions are intense all of the time and you may wonder if they will ever get any easier. We are all different and it is important to understand this and knowing this can help you to get the right support and at the right times, where it is needed.

You may find yourself facing all kinds of emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt, relief, shock. A theory developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross suggests that we go through five distinct stages of grief after the loss of a loved one: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance.

Stage 1 Denial

Many in the early stages after losing a loved one can experience denial. You might be refusing to accept the loss of someone close to you and it may not be feeling ‘real’ right now. It can be hard to believe you have lost someone important to you. If you have lost someone close to you, you may be experiencing a loss of focus and routine, dependent upon your relationship.  The feeling of denial is temporary and once such feelings have passed, this will allow you to deal with other emotions/feelings to help you through your grief.

Stage 2 Anger

Anger is often a way of expressing ourselves when we cannot understand a situation. You may be left thinking ‘why them?’, ‘why me?’. You may be feeling life is unfair and you might even feel anger towards yourself for getting angry. Anger is an emotion and can act as an outlet to allow you to express how you are feeling.

Stage 3 Bargaining

Grief can often feel completely out of our control. Bargaining can often mean we reach out for all hope, even hope where it isn’t possible. You may start to feel ‘if you had done something different, what if?’. You can start to bargain with yourself or even a ‘higher being’ where you will find yourself thinking if you do or did things differently or become a better person then maybe you can have more control over such life events, for instance, thinking if you become a better person your loved ones might not die. At the very least, this process can allow us to feel a sense of control, even if it can feel hopeless at times. This process may also cause you to feel guilt. You may be looking back with regret and upset.  These feelings are normal, and we often reflect back on things we could have done differently. We are only human and how we feel is important.

Stage 4 Depression

You might now start to realise that bargaining is not an option and reality sets in. This can leave you feeling a deeper sense of loss and sadness. Things can start to feel clearer and calmer, and this makes us start to think of life without our loved ones. It can make you start to feel less sociable, and your sadness can feel overwhelming. This is an important step and is a natural part of grieving. However, it can be very isolating, so it is important to seek support if you feel it is affecting your life.

Stage 5 Acceptance

This doesn’t mean you are ‘ok’ with what has happened. You may also never feel you can accept what has happened for but some, this stage can make you feel you can acknowledge the loss you have experienced and look at your future and life without them, and as time goes by, it can feel easier to do this.


Begin by being gentle with yourself. Grief is an intensely personal experience with no timeline. Allow yourself to fully feel and process the range of emotions without judgement. Seek support from friends and family around you and know that it is ok to ask for help. Sharing your grief can help you feel less alone. Here are some useful tips to help you through this difficult time:

  • Take care of your physical health by staying hydrated, eating nutritious meals, and getting rest and exercise. Grief can be physically and mentally draining.
  • Find outlets to express your grief, such as writing things down, creating art, listening to music or being in nature. Releasing pent-up emotions is vital.
  • Embrace your loved one’s memory by looking at photos, sharing stories, or doing activities you once enjoyed together. Celebrating their life validates your bond.
  • Be patient and avoid major life decisions in the early stages of intense grief, if possible. The grief fog will eventually lift, giving you more clarity.
  • Most importantly, don’t ignore your pain. The grieving process, while challenging, is necessary for healing. Take it one day, one moment at a time.


You may find that you have tried everything you feel possible and might be in need of some additional support. This support may be a listening ear from someone outside of your family and friends, bereavement counselling, peer support, or a support group. At Funeral Experts, we can help to identify support services that can help you to get the right help, when you need it most. Call our Bereavement advisors now on 0333 0912 490.