Common emotions and reactions

As well as feeling very sad, it is normal to have other emotions and thoughts.

Below are some of the common emotions and thoughts you might experience, along with some basic ways to cope.

You may experience some, or all, of these things, or other things not listed. How you react is normal for you.

Some people feel they need to talk to someone confidentially about how they are feeling, as well as people they know.

Your Sudden case worker is waiting to listen and support you.

If you need to talk to someone outside our hours, call Samaritans any time, day or night, 116 123.

I can’t believe it has happened

Some people feel bewilderment. It is hard to believe a death has happened. It is common to talk about a person as if they are still alive, or to feel that they may come back at any moment.

At night

It can be particularly hard to bear at night, when tired, or if alone, or if people around you are sleeping.

In the morning

It is common to dream that someone is still alive. This can be upsetting on waking and realising again that they are not.

This realisation can feel like another shock.

It may seem so unfair – ‘why has this happened to me?’ is a common thought

I can’t do anything, can’t concentrate, nor talk well

It can feel hard to get on with normal tasks. Even simple things, such as getting dressed, or doing the washing up.

It is common to feel unable to concentrate, and to struggle to remember things.

Some people find it hard to speak well. Some people stutter or muddle up words.

This may feel frustrating and upsetting, particularly if there is something you need to do.

Be kind to yourself. Only do one thing at once. Give yourself more time than normal to do things.

People will usually be glad to help.

Keep a list of what needs doing, including what could be done by someone else. For example, going to the shops. If you need assistance finding help with everyday tasks, talk to your Sudden case worker.

I feel tense or defensive

It is common to feel wound up. Some bereaved people feel defensive or guarded.

It can feel too hard to open up and talk about what you may be going through, particularly if you are worried people might ask questions or say things that may feel invasive, or might upset you in other ways.

Small challenges, previously taken in your stride, may easily upset you far more than normal.

Feeling tense and defensive can be exhausting.

Crying may help many people. It can be better to express feelings than to hold back the tears.

If only…

‘If only…’ is a common and particularly painful thought process.

Some people bereaved suddenly or too soon wish they had told a person who died how much they love them, or showed them more love.

Some people find they mull over the circumstances leading up to a death repeatedly, thinking what could have been done differently to stop it happening.

Thoughts like these can sometimes lead to feelings of guilt or shame that can be hard to explain to others, particularly if people know there is nothing to feel guilty about.

Your Sudden case worker is ready to listen, if you want to talk.