How a person dies affects your grief

What happened in the hours and days before your loved one's death, and at the time of death, can make a big difference to how you grieve.

If someone was terminally ill with a disease such as cancer, you may have had time to get used to the idea they are dying. You may have been able to spend time with them and, perhaps, talk about their death and what it will mean. This is often helpful in the months that follow, even though you may feel you can never be truly prepared for their death. If they die peacefully, you might find you draw comfort from this.

Sometimes, even when a death is expected, when it actually happens, it still feels like an unbelievable shock. If the person has rallied again and again in the past, you may have felt that they will always 'pull through' somehow.

If the death was very sudden, it can take a long time to get over the shock and the sense of things being left unfinished or unsaid. A difficult and painful death can stay in your memory for months or years before it begins to fade.

Sometimes it may be important to find ways to say the things that haven't be said, maybe writing a letter to them and putting it in the coffin with them, or taking the letter and reading it at the grave side, or writing on a balloon and letting it go can help.

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