Feelings a suddenly bereaved person may have

A life turned upside down

Sudden death often means a bereaved person’s life is ripped apart by the death of somebody very significant, close and central to them, who was not expected to die; such as a life partner, father, son, brother, mother, daughter or sister.

People who are significant, close and central to our lives can provide us with an immense feeling of security and purpose.

When these people die, it can cause us to feel lost and directionless, as well as the emotional pain and any practical difficulties due to the bereavement.

The change to their life story

Everyone is unique, with a unique life story. Anyone’s ability to cope with the sudden death of someone close is likely to be shaped partially by that life story. 

It is important, when caring for a person who has been suddenly bereaved, to have at least a basic understanding of their life story to be able to empathise appropriately.

Different life stories mean that sudden bereavement can be hard to bear for different reasons.

Past relationships and bereavement

A person’s past relationships and experiences of death, sudden or not, and bereavement can influence how they react when the sudden death of a loved one occurs.

  • People who have had poor relationships in the past (for example, an unloving childhood, or failed relationships) may find it difficult to cope when someone special dies suddenly with whom they had a very good relationship.

They may find it hard to imagine ever experiencing such a special relationship again, because their experiences have taught them that good relationships are hard to find.

  • People who have always experienced good relationships, and who have no experience of being suddenly bereaved, may find it extremely challenging to make sense of the world anymore when someone special dies suddenly. 

They have no experience of such things happening in their world, so the shock can be enormous.

  • People who have previously been suddenly bereaved, and then moved on in their lives, may find it particularly hard to bear if it happens again.

Having to experience sudden bereavement repeatedly may mean these people find it hard not to have a depressive view of the future.