How to cope with unexpected grief as Mrs Hinch's dad dies 'suddenly'

Sophie Hinch has described her 'deep unimaginable pain' after losing her father suddenly. (PA)
Sophie Hinch has described her 'deep unimaginable pain' after losing her father suddenly. (PA)

Mrs Hinch has opened up about the grief she is experiencing after her father died "suddenly" in his sleep.

The influencer, whose real name is Sophie Hinch, said that her dad's passing on 25 April was "peaceful" but had led to "deep unimaginable pain" for her.

"25th April 2024. My precious Dad passed suddenly but so peacefully whilst he slept," she wrote on Instagram, alongside a carousel of family images.

"My life, our whole world, has been turned upside down."

The cleaning influencer went on to say she is experiencing "a deep unimaginable pain I cannot put into words."

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love," she continued. "It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go."

Losing a loved one unexpectedly can bring about a different form of grief and a whole host of emotions.

"The sudden death of a loved one brings the obvious experiences of loss but added to this there is trauma and shock within the suddenness of the death of a loved one," explains Danny Zane, therapist at North London Therapy.

"If there has been no warning and no time to process, you are likely to feel numbness, confusion and a sense of disbelief."

This can come with anger at the situation and questions of 'what?' and 'why?'.

Psychologist Barbara Santini says sudden loss often triggers a tumultuous cascade of emotions, ranging from disbelief and shock to profound grief and anger.

"The psyche, unprepared for the abrupt rupture, may oscillate between numbness and overwhelming despair," she explains.

"Behaviours can vary widely, from seeking solace in solitude to seeking constant distraction as a means of evasion. Understanding these emotional fluctuations and acknowledging their validity is crucial in navigating the turbulent waters of grief."

But there are some significant differences associated with the grieving process between an expected and unexpected loss.

"When we know that a loved one is dying, we have time to walk with them, process it, engage with them, say the 'unsaid' and perhaps heal relationships," Zane explains.

"It gives us time to think about the future, one without them and what they bring. Anticipatory bereavement can in many ways be a much kinder experience than the suddenness of unexpected death of a loved one."

That said, there is no 'easy' version of grief, and everyone's experiences are valid.

Woman grieving at work. (Getty Images)
Finding yourself suddenly bereaved can evoke all sorts of emotions. (Getty Images)

Santini says coping with sudden bereavement requires a multifaceted approach that honours the complexity of the human experience.

"While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are strategies that can offer solace and support along the journey," she adds.

Acknowledging and validating emotions without judgement is paramount. "Each feeling – be it anger, guilt, or profound sadness – holds its significance and deserves recognition," she explains.

Zane suggests keeping to your usual schedule including work, any engagements and exercise regimes as much as you can. Though, of course, if you need some time first, that's okay.

Santini emphasises the importance of seeking support from a network of loved ones, friends, or professional counsellors, which can provide invaluable comfort and guidance.

"Human connection serves as a lifeline in navigating the depths of grief," she says.

Woman grieving. (Getty Images)
There are many ways you can support someone who is suddenly bereaved. (Getty Images)

Cultivating self-compassion and practising patience is essential for the grieving process. "Healing from sudden bereavement is a nonlinear journey, and allowing oneself the grace to grieve at their own pace is crucial in fostering resilience," Santini adds.

While sudden grief may seem like an unending abyss, it also holds the potential for profound transformation. "In the crucible of loss, individuals may discover newfound resilience, empathy, and a deeper appreciation for the fragility of life," Santini explains.

"By embracing the pain and honouring the memory of their loved one, individuals can forge a path toward healing and growth."

While navigating sudden bereavement is a journey fraught with challenges, Santini says it is also a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

"By honouring the complexity of emotions, seeking support, and practising self-compassion, individuals can find solace and meaning amidst the wreckage of loss," she adds.