Bereavement and Illness

In my role as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, the connection between bereavement and illness has always been clear.  Often I see patients who are suffering illness which seems to be a reaction to loss.

Grief is a natural and normal response to loss. It is a complex emotional process that can take many different forms and last for a long time. While grief is not a disease, it can have a significant impact on our physical and mental health. 

There are a number of ways in which grief can affect our physical health. For example, grief can lead to changes in our sleep patterns, appetite, and energy levels. It can also increase our risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. There is a simple explanation to some of the ways grief can have a physical effect, here.

The emotional pain of grief can also lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, drinking, and drug use. These behaviors can further damage our physical health.  MIND has an excellent page here on grief and bereavement.

In addition to the physical effects, grief can also have a significant impact on our mental health. It is not uncommon for people who are grieving to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These symptoms can make it difficult to cope with the loss and can lead to further problems in our personal and professional lives.

The Importance of Bereavement Counseling

Bereavement counseling can be a helpful way to cope with the emotional and physical effects of grief. Counseling can provide us with a safe space to express our feelings, learn healthy coping mechanisms, and develop a plan for moving forward.

There are many different types of bereavement counseling available. Some common approaches include:

  • Talking therapy:

    This type of therapy involves talking to a counsellor about your feelings and experiences.

  • Group therapy:

    This type of therapy involves meeting with other people who are grieving. Group therapy can provide support and understanding from others who are going through the same thing.

  • Family therapy:

    This type of therapy involves meeting with your family to discuss the loss and how it is affecting you all. Family therapy can help to improve communication and strengthen relationships.

Help and Support is a brilliantly simple directory, which includes a section on bereavement support.  There are a wide range of groups nationally in the UK which cover many different aspects of grief.  Treacle also covers local groups in the geographical areas of Bradford and Craven as well as Bolsover in Derbyshire which means that organisations such as Derbyshire Bereavement Hub and  Bradford Bereavement Support are listed along side the biggest national groups.

If you are struggling with grief, please reach out for help.  MIND has an excellent resource which is a good place to start.

Treacle wheel with symbols showing support available
The Treacle wheel