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After a bereavement, people can find themselves struggling to cope with a wide range of different emotions, as well as having to deal with practicalities like organising the funeral. This can be overwhelming, and can leave you feeling helpless or like your world is spinning out of control. Find practical advice on coping with a drug or alcohol bereavement both in the short and long term here. 

I can't cope today

The news of a bereavement can be a traumatic and devastating event, and affects people in different ways. Whether the bereavement was sudden or not, it will most likely have come as a big shock. You are probably feeling a mixture of different emotions, and this can be overwhelming. You might feel like your world is spinning out of control, or that it’s come to a complete stop - but there are people and organisations who can help you.

Who can I talk to ?

Cruse Bereavement Care run their Freephone National Helpline on 0808 808 1677 and offers emotional support to anyone affected by bereavement. This line is open Monday-Friday 9.30-5pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, when Cruse are open until 8pm. 

I'm looking for support

It is important to take care of yourself after a bereavement. It will probably be helpful to talk to someone about the person who has died, your memories of them and relationship with them. Who you decide to talk to is up to you. You may want to talk to friends, family, a spiritual or faith advisor, your GP or a professional organisation specialising in bereavement. It can be difficult to talk to friends and family, especially if you don’t feel they understand what it is you’re going through, but they can be a crucial source of support and you should talk to them if you feel able.

Sudden death

When someone dies a ‘violent or unnatural death’ or a ‘sudden death of which the cause is unknown’, the death has to be reported to the coroner. An inquest must be held to identify the person and answer the questions ‘how, when and where’ the person died, and if there is to be criminal proceedings. Given that drug deaths usually occur from either accidental or purposeful poisoning (overdose), they are often sudden.

The first few weeks

In the period immediately after a bereavement, you might be feeling numb and withdrawn; you might be in shock, or even a state of denial. You or other family members or friends might have to decide whether to visit the body. This is a big decision: you might find it very distressing or shocking, or it could bring you a sense of relief to see your loved one at peace. Everyone is different. This could be your chance to say goodbye, but it might be a good idea to take someone with you for support.

Longer term

As time progresses, you’ll notice that your grief changes. The intense emotions will become less frequent, and your mind will be able to start focusing on other things. While your life will never be the same again, you are building a new kind of life; not one you would have chosen, but one that you will slowly become more familiar with.

Wellbeing reflection time

It’s good to think about you and what makes you happy. Have a think about the following questions either on your own or with a friend. If you are on your own consider 5 minutes on each question and jot down your thoughts. 

Talking is really important

Talking is really important. Don’t feel like you need to keep your emotions inside – it is important to let these out. Has someone offered you a chance to chat? Take them up on this for going out for a coffee or don’t be afraid to call them. Having someone to talk to is very important. Check out the Get Support page here and the wellbeing resources page here, for further information and people to talk to.

Be honest with yourself

Be honest with yourself. You will be going through a range of different emotions. If you are finding it difficult to cope on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is important to give yourself time and acknowledge when you are not feeling great. It may feel difficult, but it will help you in the longer term. 

Don't be harsh on yourself

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to carry on as normal. You may need to take a break from your usual responsibilities. Take small steps and don’t expect too much of yourself. It is also important to not blame yourself. Often it is too easy to think – if only I did this? Don’t be harsh on yourself.