Ask an expert: What can I do to help cope with sudden bereavement?

19th Mar 19 | Lifestyle

There's no 'right' way to grieve - but you can take steps to help make the process more manageable, says life coach Carole Ann Rice. By Liz Connor.

Sad woman sitting on couch alone at home

While death is a part of life that will impact us all at some point, dealing with the sudden or unexpected loss of a loved one can be one of the biggest challenges we face.

There’s no magical equation for dealing with the intensity of grief and it can look different for different people (there’s no right or wrong). But there are things we can do to help process it and make things more manageable, so that the pain doesn’t manifest in an unhealthy way.

Here, we asked life coach Carole Ann Rice ( to share some top tips for dealing with an unexpected bereavement.

Carol Ann Rice
Carole Ann Rice (Sanity Marketing/PA)

1. Don’t rush
“Grief unfolds in many unexpected ways and, just went you think that you are through the worst of it, it can reappear and take you down again. No two losses are the same so we can never prepare ourselves.

“Give yourself time to process your loss and whether it’s a friend or a lover, a parent or a colleague or even a pet, be kind and gentle with yourself as you go through the process.”

Sad man sitting on couch at home
Allow yourself time to process your emotions (iStock/PA)

2. Talk about it
“Bottling up your emotions is never going to end well, and will only lead to problems further down the line. If you are struggling to cope with grief, talk to someone about your emotions and how they are impacting you.

“The best way to remember someone is to talk about the positive times spent with them, and allow yourself time to process those memories. ”

Don't bottle up your emotions
Don’t bottle up your emotions (iStock/PA)

3. Don’t forget about self-care
“Remembering to practice self-care and mindfulness will help you work your way through grief. If you’re struggling, remember to take time out, rest and be kind to yourself.

“When going through grief, it can be easy to forget to look after yourself and get lost in your thoughts, but you need to make time to reflect.”

4. Seek help
“Never be afraid to reach out and ask for help. It may seem like you should be able to process grief on your own, but there’s nothing embarrassing about looking for help.

“There are free services available to help people deal with grief and speaking to someone professional will help you cope with your emotions.”

Man in therapy
Counselling or therapy can be very helpful (iStock/PA)

5. It’s part of life
“While we would all like to live forever, death and grief are a sad part of life that we all have to contend with, and it’s important that you learn to accept that and make peace with it.

“Remember the positive times you spent with that person, think fondly of them, and remember that life is finite – so make the most of every day that you have and live in the now.”

© Press Association 2019