FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I'm dealing with grief - how can I cope?

Coping with grief and bereavement following suicide can be an emotional and draining experience. Losing someone you love, or someone close to you can have a significant impact on your daily life and you may experience a range of difficult and perhaps surprising emotions. Connecting with someone around you and sharing your feelings can be an important step towards healing.

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Get immediate assistance

Please note: The Mental Awareness Foundation website does not provide crisis intervention or counselling.

The information here is not a substitute for professional care.

If you are in need of urgent support or are worried about someone, please contact your local GP (doctor) or the agencies below. If your need is life threatening, call 000.

1800 RUOKDAY (1800 7865 329)

This number connects you to five of Australia’s crisis and information lines: Lifeline, Suicide Call Call Back Service, Kids Helpline, SANE Australia helpline and beyondblue Info Line.

It is a free call from any landline in Australia.

If you are calling from a mobile phone, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 to connect to 24/7 phone counselling for free.

National help lines and centres

Lifeline 24/7 telephone counselling service 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call
Back Service
24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved 1300 659 467 http://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Kids Helpline 24/7 telephone and online counselling for young people 5–25 years 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au
Reach Out! Online crisis and mental health information for young people ReachOut.com
SuicideLine Victoria 24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved 1300 651 251 www.crisissupport.org.au/SuicideLine.aspx
Gambling Helpline 24/7 telephone counselling, information and referral for people affected by gambling 1800 858 858 www.gamblinghelponline.org.au
Telephone Interpreter Service If English is not your first language please call the Telephone Interpreter Service for assistance contacting a helpline 131 450

 

Helplines and information

SANE Australia Helpline Mental health information, weekdays 9am–5pm 1800 187 263 www.sane.org
Headspace Mental health services and support for young people 12–25 years www.headspace.org.au
beyondblue Info Line Information about depression, anxiety and related disorders 1300 224 636 www.beyondblue.org.au
Black Dog Institute Information about depression and bipolar disorder www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

What can you expect when grieving?

Everyone deals with grief and bereavement differently. There are no right or wrongs in the grieving process and we all will cope in our own way. The best thing we can do for people when they are grieving, or when we ourselves are experiencing grief, is to be patient and as understanding as possible. There is no ‘normal’ timetable for grieving, and it may take weeks, months or years to begin to sort through feelings and emotions and make sense of what has happened.

Some things to consider when dealing with grief and loss:

  • It is normal and healthy to feel and express intense and painful emotions.
  • Grieving is important for healing.
  • Each person’s experience is unique.
  • Over time, sometimes years, the pain will diminish but it is normal for these intense emotions to resurface periodically.
  • Unexpressed or prolonged grief may mean professional help is needed.

What are the signs of grief?

It’s important to remember that there is no exact science in regards to grief and loss; everyone experiences grief and loss in their own way. However people may experience some, or none, of the following:

  • Shock or disbelief
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Shame
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Fear
  • Physical symptoms like stomach pain, headaches, sleeplessness, weight loss or nausea, etc
  • Constantly asking “Why?”

These are a normal part of the grieving process. However, there is a difference between complicated grief, clinical depression and/or other mental health issues, and people should be aware of symptoms like:

  • Intense longing or thoughts about the person gone
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Extreme unexplained fatigue or lack of motivation
  • Seeing or hearing things
  • Complete denial, or belief the person is still alive
  • Inability to function at work or school
  • Searching for the person in familiar places
  • Thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these, or similar extreme emotions or feelings, seek the help of a professional.

What can I do?

It can take time to learn to cope with bereavement due to loss. However, there are a number of other steps that you could take that may assist you in the grieving process.

  • Speak to your GP or a counsellor (experienced in grief and bereavement issues)
  • Ring a counselling support line like Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Speak with a friend, family member or someone you trust
  • Tell and retell your story to a trusted friend to help you to make sense of what has happened
  • Ensure you eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, sleep and look after yourself
  • Join a support group
  • Access online resources, such as those available on WINGS of Hope: www.wingsofhope.org.au

How can I help someone through grief?

You may feel that someone is not coping with it in the way you would, but this does not make them wrong, or you right. Everyone deals with loss in their own manner, and will need time and support and encouragement to help them cope in their own way. Some hints to assist you to help someone close to you:

  • Listen to them (even if you’ve heard the story before)
  • Spend time with them and don’t avoid judgement or advice
  • Help them to locate appropriate professional counselling
  • Start a bereavement support group if one does not already exist in your area
  • Supporting the bereaved can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Make sure you get the support you need so that you can continue to support them.

If grieving is prolonged and is beginning to affect your ability to function, seek professional help. Studies show that people who are bereaved by suicide often have thoughts of suicide themselves. While this may be common, get help to support you through these feelings.

For more information on suicide prevention, download a toolkit from http://www.lifeline.org.au/find_help/info_service/toolkits

How do I start a bereavement support group?

Lifeline has recently created a world first best practice Standards & Guidelines and Practice Handbook, to assist people to facilitate safe and appropriate suicide bereavement support groups. The new Standards & Guidelines and Practice Handbook sets out step-by-step how to structure and undertake suicide bereavement support group activity, allowing the provision of the safest support for people in a time of tragic loss. For information on these resources go to http://www.lifeline.org.au/find_help/suicide_prevention/suicide_bereavement_and_postvention

How does MAF help?

Our main goal is to break the taboo that exists across the sphere of mental health. To make it normal and easy to seek assistance when you are struggling.

By raising awareness at a grass roots level we hope to bring these issues into the spotlight and raise money for charities that have the resources to help on the front line.

This year we’ll hold the fifth annual Walk For Awareness on Sunday the 9th of October, starting and finishing at Captain Burke Park under the Story Bridge to provide a platform for people to come and enjoy some entertainment and explore the many options available for anyone suffering with a mental illness.

By providing this platform it is our hope and belief that over time the barriers, stigma and taboos that surround mental illness will be broken down and talking about our problems will become common place in our communities.

What charities does MAF support?

The Mental Awareness Foundation is all about delivering a fun, exciting, informative, exhilarating experiences within the communities. These such events will allow us to support charities that are raising awareness on Depression and Mental Illness to also be accepted and recognised, such as:

 

MATES IN CONSTRUCTION

MIC is a model for delivering better mental health and wellbeing outcomes for workers within the Queensland building and construction industry.

The model is based on the idea that suicide prevention is too large a task in the construction industry simply to be left to health professionals and Employee Assistance Programs.  The MATES in Construction program focuses on making better and more useful connections between workers in the industry and external professionals.

MATES in Construction uses a community development model with the long-term objective of creating self-sustaining suicide intervention structures on sites.  The effect of MATES in Construction on a site is to de-stigmatise mental health and wellbeing issues and to encourage help seeking for a range of issues – not just those that pertain to suicide.

The long-term objective is for the MATES in Construction program to permeate the industry to such an extent that suicide awareness and prevention becomes simply another part of doing business in the Queensland construction industry.

Since its launch in October 2008 more than 18,000 workers have participated in the General Awareness Training, 1,500 are functioning as Connectors and 200 workers have been trained as ASIST Suicide First Aid workers.

The MATES in Construction program has been widely recognised and has been the winner of Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Award in 2009 and 2010.  The program has also been recognised at the Annual Premiers Mental Health Week Achievement Awards.

Visit www.matesinconstruction.com.au

Phone the 24hr Helpline – 1300 642 111

 

GROW

Grow is Australia’s only national peer support organisation.  Grow is a grass roots organisation with participants of GROW providing the leadership of the organisation at the branches and the national Board.

Grow has operated for over 50 years and was established and developed by people living with a mental illness.  Grow’s program of personal growth, group method and sharing, caring  community has been developed from the findings and experience of people with a mental illness in the course of their recovery and rebuilding their lives.

Grow members share their own experiences and coping strategies in order to help one another. Members don’t just benefit from one another’s experience but, through mutual sharing, and the establishment of trust. The mutual support and friendship developed creates an ongoing network of support and a community of caring and sharing.

Visit www.grow.net.au

Phone 1800 558 268

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