“There’s always a huge sense of disbelief when a loved one dies, even if it was expected,” says Cruse bereavement counsellor Sue Gill. “You may experience guilt, anger, relief, depression and despair in the first year. This is normal and there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Be kind to yourself, talk to friends and don’t make hasty decisions you may regret.
Be patient. It’ll take time (often longer than you think) but you’ll eventually learn to live with the loss.”
Losing your job is practically and emotionally devastating, and if you’re over 50 it can feel even worse. Make sure you’ve been treated fairly. Has your employer given you at least 30 days’ notice? Has he tried to find you alternative work? Have you been offered a fair redundancy package, in keeping with your contract?
Find out from your local Jobcentre if you’re entitled to any state benefits. Stay calm and positive. “You have decades of work experience and probably a very strong work ethic,” says Denise Taylor, author of How to Get A Job in the Recession (Brook House Press, £14.99). “So don’t panic, thinking you’ll never work again; revamp your CV and stay focused and determined.”
Dealing with major debt can be a monster task, but the sooner you confront it the better. “No matter how bad your circumstances, there are always options,” says a spokesperson for National Debtline. Don’t blame yourself either.
“Most people in debt haven’t been silly with money, they’re simply victims of unforeseen circumstances like illness, divorce or unemployment.” Make a list of what you owe and how much – if anything – you can afford to repay. Then pick up the phone and get some free, confidential advice (see below).
If you, or a loved one, suddenly becomes ill, emotions will be running high, says relationship counsellor and cancer survivor, Caroline Lloyd-Evans. “It’s okay to cry, be confused, angry, irrational and frightened. Just don’t go down the ’why me?’ road,” warns Caroline. “It’s wasted time and energy on something you really can’t do anything about.”
A good support network is vital, whether it’s family, friends or others dealing with the same illness. “Everyone’s different, but don’t let the illness take over completely. You’re the same person you always were, going through a difficult time.”
Divorce is a deeply painful, stressful experience, not only for you, but for your children (even grown-up ones). So work out whether it’s what you really want before setting the wheels in motion, warns Relate therapist Denise Knowles. Confide in a trusted friend or counsellor if you have doubts.
“However, if you’ve reached breaking point, it could come as a huge shock to your partner. He may be devastated or angry, so give him time to adjust. Whatever the circumstances, it’s natural to feel sad and terrified about the future. But there’s life after divorce,” says Denise. “There’ll be upsetting times ahead, but you’ll survive them.”
5 places to get help
- Cruse Bereavement Care Free phone or face-to-face confidential help to the bereaved. Call 0844 477 9400
- Citizens Advice can help with everything from understanding the legal system to paying your gas bill. To find your local branch, visit your library or go to www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- Turn2us is a charity helps people access money and support they are entitled to in difficult times – from welfare benefits to tax credits, charitable grants, benevolent funds and support group advice, 0808 802 2000; www.turn2us.org.uk
- National Debtline Free and confidential financial advice. 0808 808 4000; www.nationaldebtline.co.uk
- Relate offers support for problems in all kinds of family relationships, not just marriage and divorce. Find your local branch by calling 0300 100 1234 or visit www.relate.org.uk