Death affects and changes everything. The circumstances and impact affect not only the obvious areas of life but every area and simple tasks that used to be easily undertaken can seem enormous and just too difficult.

Everyday activities can be exhausting and any activity can create deep anxiety. Many of my clients tell me that not only are they grieving the loss of their loved one but alongside that there is the loss of themselves. The loss of everything they thought they knew, the planned life the sense of security. Nothing in their lives will be the same again.

These changes can also cause anxiety as the sense of loss of self of who you thought you were sets in. Feelings about life and about the future are changed and the alien place that you find yourself in can be scary and isolating.

It can feel impossible to find words to enable yourself to share what you feel with those close to you and those that have never had this experience struggle to understand, comprehend how it is for you. Often, as time passes, the struggle becomes too great and for those who grieve, it seems easier to pretend that they are OK.

If others could see grief in a physical way, they might understand. One of my clients said, “If my home had been bombed and every material object destroyed, if I had left just one chair to sit on, folk would pass by and acknowledge me, they would see the devastation, they would see me clinging to that one chair for all I’m worth, trying to make sense of, to find something familiar of my life as it was, struggling to rebuild. This is how I feel but no one can see or understand it. ”

Death changes everything. Through its impact, we are forced to let go of all that was, and all that we thought would be.

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Alex James

Alex James, MBACP is a professional bereavement counselor/consultant, agony aunt, and author who has worked with bereaved individuals and families for many years. Specializing in sudden traumatic bereavement, Alex has worked for agencies as a trauma support worker, trainer and voluntarily for a charitable trust supporting those impacted by road death. Alex, who lives and works in the UK, is currently based at a hospice, developing specific services for children, supporting children and their families pre- and post-bereavement. Alongside this much-needed work, she continues to manage a bereavement website where she offers confidential e-mail support 365 days a year and also publishes an online bereavement magazine. Alex has appeared on national and local radio and is the author of Living with Bereavement.

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