What is it?

Bereavement, sometimes also referred to as grief, is a term used to describe the sense of loss felt when a loved one dies. This sense of loss may contain lots of different and new emotions, such as sadness, anger, guilt, frustration and anxiety, and sometimes the time after a death is often referred to as the ‘mourning period’. Bereavement, grief and mourning are all words you might hear people use after a death.

What is a ‘typical’ reaction to loss?

There is no typical reaction as everyone handles loss differently, some people may even laugh. This is not them being disrespectful but a coping mechanism. The loss of someone close through death is a traumatic and painful event for most people.

For many children and young people, the death of a parent, sibling, friend or relative can be extremely difficult because it may be hard to understand, show and talk about your feelings. It’s usual to feel angry, guilty, fearful, worried, numb and many other emotions that might frighten or overwhelm you.

What can I grieve for?

A sense of loss is not attached to any one thing or person but more about the relationship we had with who or what we love or how an event challenges our belief and trust in our world. The different kinds of losses can include a parent, friend, partner, pet, public figure, teacher, neighbour, or even a disaster you might read about in the paper or hear about on the news.

How can I deal with it?

Discussing death and bereavement can be a difficult subject, so try to find someone you trust and feel able to talk to who might be able to help you understand what you are feeling. Staying active might also help but sometimes you may need to take time out to think about your loved one.

How can I help a friend or family member?

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit with someone who may be grieving. They may not feel like having fun or they may think it’s ‘wrong’ to have fun yet. It’s important to let them talk about anything, even if it doesn’t seem to be connected to their grief. At first they may not want to join in with your usual activities and it is important that they don’t feel pressured to.

How long does it last?

Grief has no timeline. Don’t let anyone tell you, “You should be over it by now.”
Take every day as it comes and try to make it count.

Recommended self-care and management tips?

It is sometimes hard to accept that a loved one is not going to be there anymore and it can help to talk or send messages to them.

If you don’t want to talk out loud, you could write a letter, poem or song, draw a picture or make a photo collage. Let your emotions out in a creative way which you enjoy. Staying active with at least 30 minutes of exercise three times per week is also important for maintaining your physical health.

Services available?

Cruse National Helpline 0808 808 1677. Local Helpline 07488 253 640.
Winston’s Wish – Talking About Death
Winston’s Wish National Helpline 08452 03 04 05
Child Bereavement Charity UK

If you feel you need more support you can also speak to your school nurse or GP.

Relevant pages