Grieving and dealing with loss
The death of someone you care about can be very difficult. These feelings are sometimes called grief. It's natural to have strong reactions when someone you love or are close to dies. You might feel:
like you can't handle things
scared, numb or that you've lost control
worried that you may never feel okay again.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to feel better straight away. These feelings will change over time. It's important to try to accept how you feel. You might also be upset about the death of an animal or pet. Or when someone's still alive but you're not able to see or talk to them anymore. This can hurt as much as a relative or friend dying. 4 things to remember:
Talk to someone who'll listen to how you feel – it can really help.
However you're feelings are okay, cry if you feel like it.
Look after yourself – remember to eat well and get plenty of rest.
Things can get easier over time.
Coping with Loss
It's important to remember that feeling upset, scared or worried is normal. Lots of people feel this way after someone has died, but it's also okay if you don't.
If someone dies suddenly, you might feel shocked or anxious. You might find your emotions very tough to deal with but there are things that can help you cope.
Talk to someone
You might be worried about upsetting people you're close to if they're grieving as well. But sharing how you feel can help you to support each other. Talking about how you're feeling can really help.
Sometimes it can take a while to find the right person to talk to and who understands. Or you might want to talk to someone who doesn't know what's happened.
You might feel like you need to keep your feelings to yourself. Or that it's too overwhelming to let them out. But there are lots of small ways to let your feelings out. Finding what's right for you can really help. Why not try:
expressing your feelings with the Art box or doing something creative
letting out your anger by screaming into a pillow
writing a letter to the person who died saying how you feel – you could keep the letter, or destroy it
keeping a diary of how you're feeling
letting yourself cry.
You might want to express your feelings with someone you trust, or it might feel easier doing it by yourself. No matter how you express yourself, it can help to talk about it afterwards.
Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to feel
Nobody can tell you how you should feel after someone dies – everyone has their own way of dealing with loss. It can be difficult when people say that you should move on or want you to feel better when you're still grieving
It can help to try and find people who will understand what you're feeling. Speaking to an adult or someone you trust at school might help.
How you feel after a death can change over time, but even if someone died a long time ago it's okay to still feel like you're grieving. And it's okay if you want to keep talking about it.
It's natural to be confused or have questions after someone's died. You might not know how they died or what's going to happen next.
Asking questions, big or small, can help you feel more in control when you're confused.
It can help to:
think about who's best to ask and if they'll have the answers
make a list of things you'd like to ask about so you don't forget
plan a time when you can ask your questions without being disturbed or distracted.
Questions don't just have to be about how someone died or what's going to happen. Sometimes it can help to ask questions about what someone was like when they were alive.
Look after yourself
Do your best to eat well and get plenty of rest. You may find that you want to sleep more, especially soon after someone has died. You may also have dreams about the person who has died. This is your body’s way of coping with what's happened.
Doing exercise can help you feel less stressed, even if it's just going for a walk or spending some time outside.
Reactions to losing someone you love
Everyone reacts to death differently. And there's no right or wrong way to feel. When someone dies, you might feel:
Shocked or numb
You might have trouble believing that the person has died, or feel like you can't take it in. You might have thoughts and feelings that you haven't felt before.
You might be angry at other people, or at the person who has died. It's also normal to be angry with anything else, even normal things that you aren't usually bothered by. All of these feelings are natural reactions to losing someone you love.
You might be blaming yourself in some way for what's happened. Maybe you had an argument before they died. Or regret something you said or did. There might be something you wish you could've done. It's normal to be left with these difficult feelings. But it's important not to blame yourself.
It might help to ask yourself what the person you’ve lost might say about your feelings. Would they want you to feel responsible for things in the past that can no longer be changed? What might they say to you if they were still able to talk to you?
It may seem like everything has changed very suddenly, or you might not know what's going to happen next. This can feel very scary. You might also be worried about practical things like money or where you're going to live. Things may not be the same. But that doesn't mean things won't get easier or less scary in the future.
Some young people get scared that someone else will die as well. Sharing your fears with someone you trust can help to make you feel more secure when things are feeling difficult.
If someone was very ill or suffering you might feel relief that their pain has stopped. You might feel relieved or happy if someone who was hurting you or abusing you has died.
It’s okay to feel relieved. Your thoughts and feelings are normal. It can be helpful to talk to someone you trust about how you feel.
You might feel like life has no meaning anymore and you don't know how to go on. You may feel that you want to be with the person who has died. Be patient – in time you may find it is easier to cope.
Sometimes people you’re close to find it too difficult to hear about these thoughts and feelings. You may find it easier to talk to another adult that you trust or a counsellor.
Who to talk to about how you’re feeling
It can be difficult knowing who to talk to if you’re worried about upsetting someone or if you feel like they won’t understand. If someone else is grieving too you might not want to bother them. But sharing your feelings can really help. And you only need to tell people what you feel comfortable sharing. You could try talking to: someone you trust, such as a family member or close friend a teacher or another adult at school a counsellor
Other people who’ve experienced similar If you’re finding things difficult, it might be a good idea to visit your doctor. They may be able to give you some support with getting through the first few months as you adjust to such a big change.
Saying goodbye to someone who has died Funerals and memorial services
A funeral is a ceremony for friends and family to celebrate the life of the person who has died and to say goodbye to them.
There are lots of different kinds of funeral. People might say a little about the person who died or there might be music or poetry. Funerals can be religious and they might involve prayers but they don't have to be. After a funeral, the person who died will often be buried or cremated.
Going to a funeral might feel scary or overwhelming, especially if it's for someone you were close to. You might not be sure if you want to go or if you'll be allowed to. But if you do decide to go, it can help you to say goodbye to someone who has died.
It's important to think about whether you would like to go to a funeral. You could decide to go for the whole thing or just part of the ceremony. Sometimes it can help to ask an adult you trust or a friend to help support you on the day or answer questions if you're not sure what to do.
If you don't want to go, or you're not allowed, it can sometimes help to have a say in what happens at the funeral. You could suggest a song or poem that the person who died would have liked, or help plan what will happen.
Remembering someone who has died
Lots of people worry about forgetting someone who has died. It can help to collect things that help remind you of the person, like photos, gifts or small things like photos of places you’ve been together. You can keep these in a box or a safe place and take out a reminder any time you want.
You might want to visit the grave or the place the ashes were scattered. But sometimes this can feel scary. If you’re not sure, it can help to ask an adult you trust.
You may find that birthdays and special events are times when you miss them most. But doing something to remember them on the day can really help.
Losing someone to suicide
Someone dying can affect you no matter how it happens. But when someone takes their own life it can feel even more difficult to cope. You might be:
scared or worried about how other people might react angry at the person who died guilty or ashamed about things you feel you could’ve done differently confused about why they took their own life feeling rejected or ignored by the person who died
numb or relieved about someone’s suffering being over.
3 ways to help you cope:
Talk to someone you trust - Talk to your family, a friend or even a Counsellor about how you're feeling.
Write things down - This can help you to understand things more. You could keep what you’ve written, show someone or even destroy it.
Keep a memory box - In a box, keep different things that remind you of the person who died.
Memory stones Speak to an adult you trust about helping you to find 3 small stones – a smooth stone, a rough stone and a gemstone. When you have all 3, follow these steps: Smooth stone – Hold the stone in your hand and think about the ordinary memories of the person who died, like their favourite food or drink or what kind of shoes they wore.
Rough stone – Hold the stone in your hand and think about some of your difficult memories, like what happened when you first found out they died. Gemstone – Hold the stone in your hand and think about your special memories of the person, like TV you used to watch together or any holidays you went on. Keep all of the stones together somewhere safe. When you feel ready you could show the stones to an adult you trust to share the different memories or tell a counsellor about them. Talking about what each of the stones represent can help you feel able to hold the stones in one hand together. It can remind you that even with the difficult memories you can still have the ordinary and special memories too.
Helping someone else cope with death
It can be hard for you when a family member or friend is finding it difficult to cope with the death of someone. You can try: letting them know that you’re there to listen to them giving them space if they want to be alone being there for them if they want to cry or talk about their feelings encouraging them to think of the happy times they had with the person who died
reminding them that it can take a long time to feel better and that this is normal doing things like make a cup of tea for them or help with chores.