What is bereavement?

Bereavement, sometimes also referred to as grief, is a term used to describe the sense of loss felt when a loved one passes away.

Losing someone important to you is one of the hardest things to experience in life. If you're young, bereavement can be even more difficult but support and advice are available to help you get through it.

How might I feel?

Your emotions after a bereavement could be different to other people in your family or your friends.  There is no right or wrong way to feel so don’t beat yourself up for reacting to bereavement in different ways. You may feel only one of these emotions, but it is more likely that you will experience a range if not all of these feelings. 

  • shock, particularly if the death was unexpected
  • relief, if the death followed a long period of illness
  • guilt and regret
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • despair and helplessness
  • depression

These feelings may be very intense, particularly in the early days and weeks. Time eventually helps these intense emotions subside, and there's no need to feel guilty about starting to feel better. It doesn't mean you're not respecting the person's memory or forgetting about them.

There are several things that can help you start to feel better. Looking after your health and talking to someone will help you get through this difficult time.

What can I do?

Finding support for bereavement

Talking about your grief is an important part of getting through a bereavement. Choosing who to talk to about your feelings is a very personal decision. Sometimes the most unlikely person can actually offer the most support.

If you've lost a family member, someone else in your family may also be good to open up to because they're likely to understand how you're feeling.

A close friend can be a good listener and a source of comfort and support, even if they haven't gone through this themselves.

Looking after yourself during a bereavement

During a time of grief you may not feel like looking after yourself, but it's important to help you cope with the extreme emotions that come with bereavement.

Make sure you are eating properly, sleeping properly, socialising with friends as much as possible and exercising.

Tips from young people who have been through something similar:

  • Too many emotions? Share them
  • I like to take my mind off it - TV, playstation, go outside
  • Watch a good film or TV programme
  • Choose something that belonged to the person who died that you can treasure
  • Listen to music that you like
  • Create your own space as sometimes it can get too much and you can feel there is nowhere else to go
  • It's ok that sometimes you may want to talk about it and other times you may not want to
  • Spend time with friends
  • Spend time with your pets
  • Write about or draw your thoughts, feelings and memories
  • Memory books or boxes can be really helpful
  • Think about all of the good times you had with them

Where can I go for help?

There are lots of other sources of advice and support available, including:

  • websites and blogs – such as Hope Again, a website for young people going through a bereavement, where you can find information, read other people's experiences, and add your own; the Winston's Wish and Child Bereavement Charity websites also offer information and advice
  • helplines – such as Cruse Bereavement young people's helpline on 0844 477 9400
  • Child Bereavement UK 01494 568900  or 0800 02 888 40 or email on support@childbereavementuk.org
  • Child Bereavement UK also have an app that you can download on your phone, why not have a look at Grief: Support for Young People.
  • your GP – if your feelings do not start changing or getting easier to handle seeing your GP might be a good idea - especially if you are worried you might be depressed or are not eating or sleeping.  Your GP might be able to point you in the right direction for further support.
  • Your tutor or another member of staff you feel comfortable talking to.

Further resources can also be found on the Health and Wellbeing page of our website