It comes to us all, and for many of us, the loss of a loved one is our ultimate fear come true. Your bereavement is unique to you - no-one really knows the depth of your feelings, and because we are all different, we react differently to bereavement, and we all grieve differently. There is no right or wrong way - there is just your way.
However, there are some threads of emotion that are common to almost everyone at a time like this.
Shock and disbelief. It can take quite some time for news of the death to sink in. You don't want to believe it - who would? You can't believe it, not at first.
Loss. You've lost so much - the person, their love, their friendship, their companionship, intimacy, opportunities, hopes... and accompanying the loss can be a deep sense of sadness.
Guilt and regret. Maybe you regret having said that hurtful thing or not visiting the previous week as you'd promised. You feel bad for feeling angry. Some will feel "survivor guilt" - to be alive when another is dead. If the death was suicide, feelings of regret and guilt will probably be heightened. You might also feel shame or blame yourself.
Injustice. Why did s/he have to die so young? Why did this have to happen to me? It's not fair!
Envy. You might envy others for having what you don't have - the friend, lover, mother, father... that you have just lost. You could also envy others their apparently carefree lives.
Depression. Feeling low is a natural part of the mourning process. For a time you could lose interest in life and feel that there's no point in going on. At worst you might feel despair.
Relief. You might feel relieved, especially if the death follows a long illness or if the person's life has been reduced to a shadow of what it once was e.g. through advanced old age.
Anger. You might feel angry with the world, with God or with people for:-
Causing the death
Not being able to cure the illness
Not understanding your feelings
Making thoughtless remarks
Carrying on with life and having fun.
You might feel angry with yourself too, for what you did or did not do. But perhaps most difficult of all, you might feel angry with the dead person for dying and abandoning you and for the pain you are suffering as a result of their death.
Loneliness. Grieving can be a lonely process. You may feel that no-one can possibly understand what you are going through or that no-one cares. And you might have just lost someone who played a big part in your life.
And finally you might feel as if these reactions will go on forever, which of course they won't.
Every single one of these is a perfectly normal reaction, and every single one, can, with time and understanding, be dealt with.
For many people, just being able to talk about their loss, being able to share there feelings and experience in a safe, non judgemental place is the start of a way forward. It can be so difficult to do this even with family and friends, partly because of their personal involvement, and to tell the truth, because it often makes them feel uncomfortable and helpless.
It can be a long journey, but eventually you will start to live again. A different life, perhaps, but a good one.
If you know someone who is going through this pain, the best you can do is just listen. Let them open up, allow them their tears and fears. You don’t need to offer advice – just listen.