Grief and bereavement

Losing someone close, whether they be a relative, friend or lover is hard. Your emotions run haywire while you try to grasp what has happened and the loss you feel seems endless. We can't bring them back but we can try and help you understand your feelings.

sad girl looking out window

Everyone deals with death differently.

What is grief?

After someone close to you dies, you go through a process of mourning. Grief is the visible sign of that mourning and encompasses a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms that you experience after a loss. It is vital to let your feelings out as by bottling them up will only lead to emotional problems in the future.

Grieving for a loved one takes time. We all go through the process in different ways, and often experience conflicting or even overwhelming feelings, but slowly life will become more bearable.

The important thing is to get support from people you trust. Your family and friends all understand what you’re dealing with, and will want to help. Exactly how is down to you. Whether you want to talk about your feelings, reflect on your loss, or simply get out to take your mind off things, just do whatever feels right and makes you feel better. And remember to keep in touch with your doctor. If you are having sleeping problems, your doctor may prescribe sleeping tablets or may refer you to a counsellor if you feel the need for more help to cope with a loss.

How long will it take?

The grieving process takes time and should not be hurried. How long it will take depends on you and your situation. In general, though, it takes most people one to two years to fully recover from a major bereavement. It’s common to feel especially vulnerable at times such as their birthday, the anniversary of their death, and during the Christmas holidays.

After a suicide

If someone close to you has taken their own life, it can be especially difficult for those left behind. Don’t be surprised if you feel completely shocked and numb, or even furiously angry at them, or want to tell them they’re stupid or selfish. It’s OK to feel this way for a while, and other people who knew them may be going through the same thing too. Many friends and relatives feel guilty, or haunted by the thought that they ‘could have done something to prevent it’, and again these feelings are normal, and part of the grieving process.

Helping a friend who has lost someone

Don’t be scared to talk to them about how they feel, and to say that you are sorry for their loss. Let them know you’re there for them if they want to sound off angrily, cry on your shoulder, or get out to do something to distract themselves for a while. Try not to avoid them unless they ask for some space, this may make them feel worse than they do already, and it’s a time when they need to know who their friends are.

Next Steps

  • Cruse offers grief and bereavement support via phone, email, and face-to-face. You can call their free helpline on 0808 808 1677 (Monday - Friday, 9.30 - 5pm, extended to 8pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays) or visit their website for more support.
  • Hope Again is a website created for young people by young people affected by bereavement. It offers a community of peer support, as well as a support service via email: [email protected]
  • Anyone can contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline to talk things through. 116 123
  • Marie Curie offers emotional support and practical information for anyone affected by terminal illness, and their friends and families. Call Marie Curie's helpline on 0800 090 2309 from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 5pm Saturday.

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.




Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo by luxorphoto