It can be extremely difficult when someone important to you dies. Whether you’ve lost a family member, a friend, a pet, or any other significant person in your life, you may feel a whole range of emotions. This is called grief.
The charity, Childline, explains that there are a mixture of emotions and responses associated with grief, and you may feel all, some, or none of these. Whatever you’re feeling, your feelings are valid, and you are not alone. You might feel:
If you know that someone you love very much is dying, you may start to feel grief even before they have died. This is called ‘anticipatory grief’ and it feels just the same as grief after a person dies.
Grief can affect you physically as well as mentally. Some of the physical symptoms of grief include:
Grief might make you feel like you’re out of control – as if you’re being thrown from one feeling to another and another. This is not unusual. The important thing to remember is that everyone experiences grief differently – there is no ‘right’ way to feel – and how you react might be very different to how other people around you react.
Sometimes, people may feel guilty after the death of someone they loved – like maybe it’s their fault. These sorts of feelings are especially common among young people. And if you’re a young person who was caring for someone who died, you may wonder if maybe you could (or should) have done more to help them. But it’s important to remember that the loss you are going through is not your fault. And, once someone has died, if you stop feeling sad or in pain about their death, it does not mean that you’ve stopped caring. You are allowed to feel happy and move forward in your life. It is not a sign that you don’t care enough for the person you have lost.
Crying can be a way of getting feelings out – it’s not weak or stupid. Laughing is another way of coping and can be a good distraction. Talking to someone you trust or writing things down in a journal or diary can also help. Some people find that keeping a memory box or book helps them to remember the important times they shared with the person they loved.
Childline provides lots of really good ideas about things you can do to help you get through a tough time. And if you’d find it helpful to talk to someone confidentially about how you’re feeling, give Childline a call on 0800 1111.
The experience of a significant, sudden death can be especially difficult to cope with – and even more so if the person took their own life. If this has happened to you, you may find it helpful to talk with someone about what you are feeling. (See the links below.)
Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Pick someone who is a good listener. If you can’t think of anyone right away, there are several free helplines that have been set up to support children and young people who are experiencing grief.