Support & guidance Find support What are bereavement and grief? You may wish to click on the following links to jump to a specific section of this page: What is bereavement? Who can be affected by bereavement? Is grief different to bereavement? What does grief feel like? Is grief like depression, anxiety or mental illness? Does everyone grieve in the same way? Are there stages in grief? Is it important to express grief? What is the difference between bereavement counselling and bereavement support? What is bereavement? When a person is bereaved it means that a loved one, or someone else important to them, has died. We tend to use the term ‘bereavement’ to describe the period after someone has died in which people who cared about them are grieving. Who can be affected by bereavement? Bereavement is a common experience and most of us will at some time experience the death of someone who is important to us, as a child, young person or adult. People often say that they have ‘lost’ the person, that they ‘passed away’ or have ‘gone’ although at Child Bereavement UK we always recommend saying the word ‘died’, as euphemisms can be confusing, especially to children. Is grief different to bereavement? Most people who are bereaved experience grief, which involves feeling lots of different emotions in response to the death of the person. For further guidance: How we grieve and what may help What does grief feel like? There is no set pattern to grieve and everyone will grieve in their own way. You may experience all sorts of feelings or you may feel nothing. You may find it easy to talk or you might bottle all of your emotions up. There are no rules in grief. Whatever happens, be kind to yourself and give yourself time to heal. Is grief like depression, anxiety or mental illness? Grief is not a mental illness, but it can affect your wellbeing, including your physical and mental health. Research, and the experience of people who have lost someone, show that it is important to grieve as the process of grieving helps us to accept the death and to carry on living and functioning without the person who has died. For further guidance: How we grieve and what may help Does everyone grieve in the same way? No matter whether it’s a mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, grandma, grandad, or friend who has died, everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to feel when you are bereaved; it depends on the relationship you had with that person, not just the relationship to them. For further guidance: How we grieve and what may help Partners may grieve differently Are there stages in grief? One theory is that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (Five Stages of Grief, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross) which everyone experiences in the same order. However, we know now that while we experience a range of different feelings when we're grieving, and it is important to recognise these feelings, they are not experienced at specific times and in a specific order. In fact you can experience any of the emotions at any time, in any order over time, and even in the same hour. Lois Tonkin's model of grief (Growing around grief- another way of looking at grief and recovery, Lois Tonkin, 2009) says that we grow around our grief. At first your grief is the only thing you can think about. However, as time goes on, your life will encompass other things including things you enjoy and other memories. Your grief will stay the same size but it will become a part of your life rather than the whole focus of your life as the rest of your life grows around it. At times like anniversaries or when something reminds you of your grief it may feel as intense as when your special person died, but mostly your grief will become integral to your life. Sometimes people represent this as a fried egg: the yolk represents your grief and the white represents the rest of your life. William Worden (J William Worden (2009) 4th Edition, Springer New York) identifies four Tasks of Grief – accepting the reality of the death, processing the pain of the grief, adjusting to a world without the person who has died, and looking to the future while maintaining a connection with the person who has died. There is no set pattern as everyone grieves differently and you may move back and forth between them the different tasks. Is it important to express grief? Expressing grief is healthy and trying to avoid these feelings can cause problems in the future. If you feel you are suppressing your grief, or your anger or guilt continues for a long time or takes over from other feelings, you may want to consider seeking support from a trained professional such as a counsellor or a bereavement support practitioner. For further guidance: Helping yourself through grief What is the difference between bereavement counselling and bereavement support? At Child Bereavement UK, we offer support from trained bereavement support practitioners. Like a bereavement counsellor or a grief counsellor, a bereavement support practitioner listens confidentially to a bereaved person about their grief. However, our bereavement support practitioners also offer guidance based on what other bereaved families tell us helps them, and signpost to activities and resources. They also, where appropriate and with permission of the family, liaise with other agencies such as schools and social services. > Find support near you > Child Bereavement UK support services > About our Helpline Please see our range of short guidance films on related topics: How we grieve Why is my partner grieving differently? Looking after yourself when someone has died What should I do when someone I know has been bereaved?