When someone important in your life dies, you can have many difficult or confusing feelings. This is sometimes called 'grief' or 'bereavement'. You may feel shocked, angry, worried or just so sad. Some feelings may surprise or even frighten you, but you won’t always feel like this. It can help to know there are people around you who you can turn to, even if you don’t know what to say. 

This guide looks at issues that you might be facing and ideas from other young people about how to cope and find support. 

At first 

You may feel shocked or numb. It might be hard to believe the person has died and you may expect them to walk through the door at any time. 

Anger, guilt and blame 

Anger and guilt are both common when you are grieving. It may feel unfair that the person has died and left you. Some people feel guilty or blame themselves or other people, even if there is nothing that could have been done to change what happened. If you feel angry or guilty, try to tell someone about it, write it down, or find another safe way to let your feelings out. Do something energetic to let off steam, or find a quiet, safe space to go to when you are stressed. This may help you find new ways to think about what happened. 

Confusion and worry 

It may be hard to understand what has happened. You might panic or feel depressed, or begin to worry that you or someone else close to you is going to die as well. When someone dies, it is very common to start wondering about life, what it means to you, who you are and what you’d like to be. If you are worried about your thoughts, or you feel unsafe, tell someone. 


If possible, keep photos, letters, some clothing or other items that belonged to the person who died, to help you remember them. It may be painful at first, but memories are really important. In later years you will be so glad you have them. 

Help from others 

At first, people will probably be very supportive and rally around you. You might get a lot more attention than you are used to. This can feel nice and helpful at the time, but it may fade off later. Although others have their own lives to get on with (and so have you), it is still OK to ask for support, even months or years later.

I was really alone, I didn't want to speak to anyone - I just wanted to be by myself. But now I can talk about what happened without getting upset.


Good and bad days

Sometimes you'll have an awful day when you feel you can’t cope. You'll feel anxious, angry, tearful or isolated. But you may also have days when you're hopeful and optimistic. Right now you may be having more bad days than good, but this can change over time. Don’t feel guilty if you have a day when you don’t think about the person who died, you don’t have to be sad all the time. Give yourself permission to be happy. 

Friends and family 

Supporting each other - Those around you will be grieving too and it can help to share feelings and memories, if you can. You might feel nobody understands what you're going through and you're alone in your grief. If you're worried about upsetting your family, maybe there's a friend or adult you can talk to. 

Try talking in the car, or doing something together like shopping or walking the dog. You can talk about everyday things if talking about feelings is too hard. Just keeping connected will help you all to be less worried about each other. 

Friends - Some friends may feel awkward if they don’t know what to say. Or you may feel different from them because they've not been through what you have. You may find it hard to care about what they're into, for a while. Tell friends how they can help, including just hanging out and being normal if that's what you need. 

I told my friends: ‘If I get upset, it doesn’t matter, just ask me.’ They said that helped them a lot. 


Physical effects 

Grief is exhausting. You could go off food or find it becomes tasteless, but try to eat regularly as this can help you cope. You may find it hard to sleep, or have upsetting dreams. You may feel tired or fed up, or find it hard to concentrate at school or work. It can help to get fresh air and exercise, even just a quick walk with a friend. 

Delayed grief 

Feelings of grief may come later, and you may think: “Why now?” Sometimes we can’t deal with strong feelings straight away. It can also take time to really understand what has happened and what it means for you. Birthdays and other dates may bring back memories or painful feelings. 


You may want to get back to school or college as soon as possible, or need a bit of time off. If some or all of your teachers know what has happened, they will understand if you seem quiet or upset. You or someone else can talk to your form teacher or Head of Year about what support you need, and they can pass it on to other staff. 

If school or college work is hard to deal with, talk to your teachers so that together you can find ways to ease the pressure. You could get extra support with school work and exams 

Coping and getting on 

You may be going through one of the worst experiences of your life, so be kind to yourself. At first it may seem awful, or even pointless, to carry on without the person. But as time goes on, the feelings of shock, numbness or panic will fade. Grief doesn’t go away completely, and the person will always be important to you. But with support you can find ways to cope so that your grief becomes a more manageable part of your life. 

In a year, things could look very different, and in five years... who knows? You can look to the future and have goals to aim for, while still remembering the person who has died. 

More support 

You may have great support from family and friends, but feel you need extra help. Most support organisations for young people are free. Most also offer confidential support which means they keep what you say private, unless they are worried about your safety. 

We can help 

Visit our page: How we can support you for more on our services.

You can also call our Helpline 0800 02 888 40, email [email protected], or use Live Chat on our website.

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