Adjusting to life after someone close to you has died may be a difficult time. Grief is a natural part of the recovery process and adjusting to your new circumstances may take time. The funeral is just the beginning.
You are not alone — there are many resources available including community organisations, government departments, counsellors, books and self-help groups to provide information, support and advice if required.
- The advice and support of a professional counsellor may help you come to terms with the death. Counsellors can be contacted through organisations, government departments and professionals such as:
- Salvation Army Care Line
- Department of Health — Community Health Centres
- Department of Social Security
- Department of Veterans’ Affairs — they also provide specialised, free and confidential counselling services for veterans and their families through the Veterans’ Counselling Services (VCS)
- Doctors, hospital social workers or welfare staff
- Lifeline operates a 24 hour crisis counselling line
- Marriage and family counselling centres
- Ministers of religion
Depending on the organisation they may be volunteers or paid professionals, and provide one-on-one or group counselling sessions. They may also host social outings where you can make new friends and find new interests.
Sharing experiences and emotions with others is often a helpful way to understand the grieving process.
There are a number of self-help groups available including:
Solace Association Inc — Solace is a nondenominational support group for those grieving the death of a partner.
Compassionate Friends — A self-help organisation offering friendship and understanding to bereaved parents wishing to meet with others.
SANDS/SIDS — Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support Group. A self-help group of parents who have experienced losing a baby through miscarriage, before 20 weeks gestation, stillbirth, prenatal or neonatal death, sudden infant death syndrome or any death of a child. Counsellors and Ministers of religion may also be able to advise on self-help groups in your area.
There are a number of books about dealing with grief. Many of these are written from personal experiences.
In My Own Way, The Bereavement Journal Dianne and Mal McKissock (ABC Books) This journal allows a grieving person to express intimate thoughts and feelings. It provides the guidance and comfort to help them survive the early, unfamiliar process of grief.
Coping with Grief Dianne and Mal McKissock (ABC Books, third edition). This simple and easy-to-read booklet helps people understand their experience of bereavement.
Softly My Grief Ann McDonald (Penguin). Diary entries of a woman prior to and after the death of her husband from cancer.
Centrelink has trained social workers who can talk to you about any issues you need to deal with after the death of someone close to you.
Social workers can help with:
- Counseling and support
- Advice about Social Security payments and services
- Advice about community services
- Organise referrals to other support services
- Discuss options for the future, such as employment, training or volunteer activities
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
The support available for clients of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs include counselling services, income support, special allowances, bereavement payments, funeral benefits, information on continuing financial assistance, housing assistance and commemorative plaques for deceased eligible veterans. Brochures describing these
services are available from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
It may seem difficult at first to fit into social groups and activities after losing someone close to you. You may or may not want people around you. With time, however, the company of others may help you develop new interests.
The National Seniors Association, Council on the Ageing, your local Community Health Centre, Veterans’ Affairs office or a Social Security social worker can put you in touch with community organisations like Rotary, Apex and Senior Citizens, which would value your help as a volunteer.
Ex-service organisations such as Legacy and the War Widows’ Guild can also help you seek out these organisations. They often have an interesting program of social activities as well.
Taking care with your diet and exercise is especially important during this time. Your doctor will be able to refer you to organisations or professionals who can provide information and advice about exercise and good nutrition. The dietician at your local Community Health Centre or hospital can also help you
You may be considering moving from your family home. It is important to consider all the options carefully before you make a decision. Moving too quickly may not be the best solution for you in the longer term so it is advisable to talk over the alternatives first. Social Security has Financial Information Services (FIS) officers who can give you information about how your choice will affect any Social Security payments you receive.
Assistance around the home
Many community groups or local councils can arrange services to help care for your house or garden. Some of these include Meals on Wheels, home help (house cleaning), gardening and shopping. Not all of these services are free and some may be provided only after your needs have been assessed.
The social worker at your local Community Health Centre or hospital can refer you to services available in your area.
There are many other organisations in the community that provide assistance, advice and information on legal, financial, housing, bereavement and social matters.
Some of these organisations include:
- Council on the Ageing (for pensioners)
- National Seniors (for people over 50)
- Public or Private Trustee
- Church groups
- Health support groups for medical conditions (for example, Cancer Society, Arthritis Foundation, Dementia Society and Diabetes Australia). These organisations have state and sometimes regional offices. Some may have a membership fee or a small cost attached to the use of their services