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. 

Bereavement is a common experience and most of us will at some time experience the death of someone who is important to us.  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.

Most people who are bereaved experience grief, which involves feeling lots of different emotions in response to the death of the person. 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. 

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. Visit our page How we grieve and what may help for more information, or find out What is grief? according to young people we've supported

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. 

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 free bereavement support