Grief is not a feeling of constant depression but is a combination of feelings of shock, sadness, anger, guilt, depression, denial, fear, panic and loneliness. Although bewildering, these feelings are normal, natural and part of the healing journey.
When you first learn of someone you love has died, the immediate reaction is usually of shock, especially if the death is sudden or unexpected.
Even in expected deaths, there is still a level of disbelief. Expressing your feelings and emotions helps in the healing process. It is normal for you to want to cry, scream, be angry, tell stories and reminisce.
During grieving, you may feel depressed and experience overwhelming feelings of loneliness. You may even feel quite disinterested in life around you including family and friends.
However remember to stay in contact with your family and friends and try not to isolate yourself during this time.
Some people blame themselves for the death. Many thoughts can cross your mind such as “If only I had stopped him/her from going” “If only I had been there”. Although these feelings are normal, you cannot be responsible for something that is out of your control. Try to replace these thoughts with more positive messages to yourself.
Anger and aggression can be very normal experiences when working through grief. Try to talk to someone you trust and feel comfortable with about the death.
You may experience physical symptoms. Your body may ache with tension which could lead to sleeplessness, headaches, low appetite, poor concentration and so on. Try to take the time to look after yourself. It is important to eat properly, exercise, and try to get enough sleep.
It takes time, for some people much longer than for others, but eventually you will start to feel better and see signs of hope and optimism in yourself and others. Things will feel more peaceful and life will become more manageable. Whilst you may never “get over it” you will come to a place where you accept your grief as a part of the fabric of your life and adjust to the changes this has brought.
We encourage you to seek professional help to assist you. Your family doctor, trusted clergy, professional counsellors, Lifeline, Catholiccare, and various support groups are all available to help you.
Support After Suicide
The Support After Suicide Community brings together people who are bereaved by Suicide. There are people and services available to you who understand the complex and overwhelming nature of suicide. Although you may feel alone in your grief, please be assured you are not alone.
- The Standby Response Service provides an immediate response to people bereaved by suicide. Please visit www.unitedsynergies.com.au to find your local 24 hour crisis responses telephone number.
- Support after Suicide has a wide range of useful information and resources as well as a confidential online community. Please visit www.supportaftersuicide.org.au for further information.
- Immediate help
- Suicide Call Back service 1300 659 467
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
- Mensline 1300 789 978
Please call us on 1800 118 188 for more information.
Practical steps to help yourself or a friend
Accept how you feel –– Let yourself cry, talk about the loss, or have a laugh. Let yourself feel what you are feeling and understand that what you are feeling is natural.
Be kind to yourself – eat, drink, sleep, get fresh air and try to avoid alcohol and sedatives. Do things you like doing.
Talk about your feelings – don’t think you have to cope on your own. Talk to someone you trust. Support from family and friends is important when someone has died or you may prefer to seek grief counselling.
Take each step at a time – live each day as it comes. Understand and accept disruption in your life. Take control of things you can. Understand there are things you have little or no control over. Give yourself permission to grieve.
Explore your spirituality – pray, meditate or spend some time with nature.
Be prepared for good times and bad times – birthdays, anniversaries or everyday events can bring back memories that can upset you. You need to find a way to remember the person that brings you comfort.
Keep in touch with your family and friends, by phone, visits, email or just by inviting them over for tea or coffee.
Plan some social events ahead of time so you have something to look forward to.
Visit or stay with family or friends who live away from your normal area for a change of scenery.
Take up a new hobby or interest to stimulate yourself.
Keep a diary or journal to help you understand your path through your grieving.
Helping a Friend
It is often hard to know how to help a friend who is trying to cope with the death of a loved one. Some people are so unsure of what to say they avoid the funeral and their friend all together, leaving the person who is suffering from grief confused by the fact that their friend seems to have abandoned them.
Following are a few suggestions:
You can help even before the funeral with assistance with meals and chores.
Attend the funeral service which shows you share the loss and are there to offer support.
After the funeral an understanding friend means a lot. The bereaved need to know that they are not alone.
Listen to the bereaved and allow them express their feelings freely. The best thing you can to do is to allow the person to cry and show their real feelings.
Often it is hard to find the right words, a squeeze of the hand or a hug is often more comforting than words.
Try not to say things like “be brave” or “be strong” – this encourages grieving people to bottle up their feelings. And avoid saying things like “I know how you feel” – you can never really feel another’s inner feelings.
Talk about the loved one, use their name, listen to the circumstances of the death and reminisce together.
As the weeks and months go on, the support of others often diminishes, this is when they need you most. So telephone, drop in, prepare food, invite children on outings, invite them to your house.
Dealing with the Estate – where to begin
The information contained here relates mainly to Queensland and is not and should not be relied upon as legal advice. For legal advice, we recommend you speak with a suitably qualified solicitor who may also be able to assist with the administration of the Deceased’s Estate.
The first priority is to locate the Deceased’s Will. A copy may be in your loved ones personal papers though it is likely that the original has been left with the Deceased’s solicitor, the Public Trustee or in a bank safety deposit. The Will will tell you who has been appointed the Deceased’s Executor and may even indicate what funeral arrangements are to be made.
The Executor may leave the Funeral Arrangements to the next of kin to organise however sometimes the Executor may need to step in and “take charge” of the arrangements. The Executor must arrange for the funeral expenses to be paid as they are a first charge on the Estate.
If there are funds available in the deceased’s bank account, the bank will pay for the funeral expenses on presentation to the bank of the funeral director’s account. You do not have to wait for probate, or other steps in the Administration, to have the funeral costs paid
The Role of the Executor starts with the funeral arrangements and finishes when the Deceased’s debts are fully paid and the Estate distributed to the beneficiaries.
At an early stage, it is important that the Executor ensure that any property in the Estate is made secure and that appropriate insurances are in place.
The administration of the Estate consists of
1. Gathering in the assets,
2. Payment of the debts and taxes,
3. Distribution of the balance of the Estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will.
There are no probate or death duties in Queensland but a taxation return may need to be lodged accounting for the income up to the date of death and capital gains tax on the Deceased’s assets. The Executor should seek the appropriate accounting advice before distributing the assets.
If Probate is required
Probate is a formal recognition of the Will by the court and confirms the right of the Executor to administer the Estate in accordance with the Will. Probate is often not required for small Estates.
If there is no Will
If there is no Will, a member of the Deceased’s family will need to apply to the Court to be appointed Administrator and will be given Letters of Administration. This enables the Administrator to gather in the Deceased’s assets, pay the debts and distribute the balance of the Estate to the Deceased’s next of kin according to an Order of Entitlements set out in the relevant legislation.