How to manage the grief lull during the period after a funeral

The period after the Queen's funeral could leave some people in a grief lull. (Getty Images)
The period after the Queen's funeral could leave some people in a grief lull. (Getty Images)

It's been five days since the Queen's funeral and life is returning to normality for most of us.

Some members of the Royal Family have made their return to duties and the streets around Westminster Abbey have taken on a reflective calm following the four mile plus queue to see Her Majesty lying in state.

For some getting back to every day life will no doubt offer some respite from the emotional toll of the last two weeks, for others, however, the time immediately after a funeral can be a challenging period of the grief process.

The grief lull, or grief hangover, refers to the period immediately following the funeral of a loved one, when the busy-ness of arrangements, well-wishers and support of friends and family, suddenly abates to leave the person grieving alone with their feelings.

While the planning of a funeral can provide structure and comfort during an extremely difficult time, when it has wrapped, many of us are left feeling lost and unsure about what to do with our grief.

And this sudden lull can have a knock-on impact on emotional wellbeing.

Read more: Queen's death highlights power of collective grief: Benefits and how to handle it

"After the funeral is over, when it all goes quiet and the people around you get on with their own lives, you may feel as if you are left with an emptiness," explains Dipti Tait, therapist and author of Planet Grief.

"A feeling of 'no one cares’ - a horrible grief-filled void constantly reminding you of what you have lost."

The country is returning to some sort of normality after the Queen's funeral. (Getty Images)
The country is returning to some sort of normality after the Queen's funeral. (Getty Images)

Tait says this particular period in the grief journey can feel agonisingly lonely and isolating for those recently bereaved.

While everyone else around you may seem to be returning to usual, those stuck in the grief lull can't help but feel their life is forever changed and are unsure about how to move forward.

"You may feel you can’t ask for help, or feel guilty for your grief and it is easy to shut yourself away in this time as the vacuum can suck you into it," Tait continues.

Thankfully, there are some ways to navigate this tricky timeframe in the grief process.

Read more: Nadiya Hussain on how cooking helped to ease family grief

How to survive the grief lull

Remember there's no right way to grieve

Friends and family might decide that the period after the funeral is the right time for you to begin to get over your grief, but the healing process isn't something that can be rushed.

"Remember there are no right or wrong things to do here," explains Tait. "Whatever you are feeling is okay. Whatever you choose to do, it has to be something that you feel you need.

"Everyone is so uniquely different with their own personalised needs and preferences, but usually the grief lull is the same," she continues.

"So, it’s always useful to think about how you prefer to navigate this time, in the right way for you - it can often become a time of good grief, rather than bad grief."

Watch: Kate and William make surprise visit to thank Windsor staff for Queen’s service

Find your grief aid

Tait says what might work in terms of helping you cope during this tricky time, could depend on your personality type.

"If you are generally a private person, your grief can also be a private affair," she explains. "This period of time can be useful for you to journal, paint, draw, write, meditate, read, go on walks, activities that are quieter and help you reflect and contemplate."

However, if you are naturally a person who likes being around people, Tait says it is essential you reach out to others; friends and family and explain to them that you would like their company.

"You could even be with others, but also be doing your own thing - such as signing up for a group activity," she continues.

"This way, you won’t feel so alone, and you will have the choice to be with others, if you wish to be."

Tait points out that it is also okay to decline offers of company if you need to be on your own.

"It’s always about getting the right balance of help depending on your own preferences," she adds.

Find a grief circle

If you feel like you are being told to rush your grief, Tait suggests trying to connect with people who are in a similar situation.

"Perhaps book yourself on a grief retreat, or start working with a grief therapist, or begin learning something new, to get your mind re-engaged and interested in something different," she says.

Read more: Male grief: How to cope and where to seek help

The grief lull can leave sufferers struggling to find their new normal. (Getty Images)
The grief lull can leave sufferers struggling to find their new normal. (Getty Images)

Introduce some structure

Quite often, Tait says, structure is useful during the grief lull period.

"Use this time by getting some structures in place, such as starting a new class, or even buddying up with a friend to do a challenge," she says.

Stay connected

Funerals offer an opportunity to bring us together with friends and family we may have drifted away from during our busy every day lives, giving us a reminder about how important those relationships can be.

And it can be helpful to keep up those rekindled connections in the coming weeks by reaching out to seek or offer support in the wake of your shared grief.

Read more: How to cope with grief

Try something new

Tait suggests using the time during the grief lull to do something completely different.

"Sometimes a complete change of scene can help shift our perspective," she says. "For example joining a new weekly class will get you out and about, which can stop you feeling too isolated.

"The suggestion of taking up a new hobby that involves another person, or joining a gym is useful because if you feel like being on your own, you can be, but there are also people around you - and even if you don’t know them, you are not on your own."

Seek help

If you're still struggling to navigate the grief lull, counselling and support groups can help you cope.

Visit The Grief Trust to find support near you.

Organisations such as CRUSE and also have advice centres that can help provide support if you need it.

If you need someone to talk to about grief the Samaritans are always there to help and listen. Call 116 123 free, 24/7.