Coping after an Unexpected Death

Sudden bereavement leads to some very strong and negative emotions. Finding ways to work through those emotions is challenging enough when you have the time and the space to prepare for a death, but when it is sudden and unexpected, this becomes much more difficult.

There are things that you can do to help you through the initial stages of grief. It’s never easy to go through bereavement, but finding positive ways to tackle your processing of negativity is always going to make coping easier. If you’re experiencing the pain of sudden and unexpected loss, then here are the key things to focus on.

1. Coping with Shock

One of the first things that happens after hearing about a sudden death is the natural shock response. Dealing with the effects of shock can be as challenging as the bereavement itself, and may manifest in a number of ways such as physical pain or depression and anxiety. That initial shock will pass, but the emotional entanglement of loss and trauma can be overwhelming. Make sure that you address your negativity by being proactive in the tasks that you will need to do.

2. Looking after Yourself

When you are feeling emotionally drained, it can be difficult to remember even the basic functions of your day. Forgetting to eat, drink, or keep your home warm is very common. It is absolutely essential that you take the time to meet your basic needs. You can help with this by focusing on the necessities. Consider:

  • Making sure that your loved ones are also coping with their own grief.
  • Keeping up to date with legalities - Use will specialists like if you feel that there are any issues with the estate of the deceased.
  • Asking for help - Friends and family members can help you keep your basic necessities covered while you process your feelings

Looking after your own needs after a sudden loss is not easy, but having tasks to focus on can help you work your way through your bereavement.

3. Understanding Your Grief

Research if you think that you are not reacting well to a sudden loss. You might be surprised by how common the stages of grief actually are. While everyone deals with grief in their own manner, there are consistent stages that you should be prepared for.

Guilt, denial, and anger all very common. Don’t feel ashamed of those emotions.

They are natural, and by knowing what to expect you will be better prepared to handle them. Look at the experiences of others who have gone through similar events, and find the best solutions for you that will help you process those negative emotions.

Sudden loss can be traumatising, and can mean having some very negative long-term emotional journeys. Nobody should go through grief alone, so always seek help wherever you most feel comfortable. Whether that's a family member, friend, or grief counsellor, having someone to talk to can help you realise that your emotions are valid, and that they can be worked through healthily.


Pete White Pete White

Love Shrewsbury editor and chief developer at The Web Orchard, find out more on

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