This week is Dying Matters week and National Mental Health Awareness week and there has been considerable coverage in the media. Grief is not a mental health issue, and not everyone who is bereaved will experience any mental ill health; however, bereavement and grief can be a trigger for mental health problems. Where there are previous mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, these may be exacerbated by a bereavement, but not always.
A bereavement will often leave someone with a deep sadness that seems to go on for a long time. Feelings of not being able to cope and being overwhelmed with an intensity of different emotions associated with grief can feel very alien and even frightening, but they are normal grief reactions and need not develop into mental health problems.
A message that both campaigns, Dying Matters and Mental Health Awareness week, share is the importance of talking about how you are feeling and not shutting it away. Bereaved children and adults need to be encouraged to talk about the death and associated feelings in order to try and make sense of them. The waves of grief can often feel overwhelming but talking about them to someone will help. Initially remembering the person who has died can be really painful but talking about them is key to children and adults coming to terms with the death. In time such conversations will turn to happier memories associated with the person.
Dying Matters are holding a series of events this week asking #areweready? - highlighting the importance of talking about death and dying. National Mental Health Awareness week includes programming on BBC radio and television about depression, anxiety and psychosis.