Don’t wallow in it, though. There will come a time when it’s over and then you’re allowed to say goodbye to it. Don’t feel guilty that you’re not mourning so hard any more: welcome the fact that you’re getting through it and out the other side.
It is very normal to feel numb at first, especially if the person who’s died has been ill for a while. If you’ve nursed them through the illness you may also feel relief, followed by guilt at feeling relieved. The guilt is normal, but accept the relief too: you are under less physical strain, and the person who has died is no longer suffering. Both those things are good.
If the person dies suddenly, shock is the most likely first reaction, and disbelief. You may feel angry too, either with the person who’s died or with the person who caused the death, if there is one. You’ll be upset that you never had the chance to say goodbye, especially if your last moments together weren’t good. It is normal to keep expecting to see or hear them, and depressing to realise that you won’t.
You may find you feel ill, break out in spots or become hyper-active – or the opposite. Inability to think straight and tiredness are very common signs of grief, often made worse by sleeping badly. It may be sensible to ask your doctor for help, especially if you’re having to cope by yourself with all the arrangements, phone calls and paperwork resulting from a death.
Let yourself cry – and shout and scream if that helps. The neighbours will understand, if they know what’s happened. Talking helps too, though some people think they’d prefer to be left alone; sharing the burden may not make it much smaller, but it does help. Some people find being busy makes them feel better, others can’t put their minds to doing anything. Accept that your feelings may be different every day.
Don’t rush into doing anything dramatic, like dumping your old life and starting afresh somewhere you don’t know anyone. It may be tempting, but you’ll probably regret it later. At least wait until the first blast of grief has died down and you’re thinking straight again.
If things get really bad, talk to a counsellor: the Samaritans and the bereavement charity Cruse can both give you the time and non-judgemental help you need. Don’t make alcohol or sleeping pills your friends – they don’t help, long-term, and it’s very easy to become dependent on them. But don’t refuse them, either, in the short term.
Above all, accept that grieving takes time and allow yourself to feel whatever it is you’re feeling today. It’s all part of the process and your grief will, eventually, diminish and soften.