When someone dies, some of the words you will hear to describe what happened are bereavement, grief and mourning.
Grief describes the feelings you may be having after the death of someone close to you, whether it is a member of your family, a friend or a pet.
Losing someone or something you care deeply for is one of the hardest things we have to face in our lives. It can be a confusing time and you may feel overwhelmed with all sorts of difficult emotions. It is important to know that everyone experiences and expresses their feelings to grief in different ways and there is no right or wrong way to do this. You could feel great sadness, relief, disbelief or you could feel frightened or numb. These emotions will express themselves in different ways. You may:
Find it hard to concentrate doing the things you enjoy.
Pretend that nothing happened and keep yourself busy by focusing on school work or something else that takes up your time.
Feel angry, maybe like you want to scream.
Feel like you just want to be left alone.
Feel like a different person because of what happened.
Feel like you don’t want to eat or want to eat more.
Feel tired, find it hard to sleep or have disturbed sleep (wake up in the night or have bad dreams).
Feel that it’s unfair and that no one understands what you’re going through.
Think that it’s your fault somehow, feel guilty for not getting to say goodbye.
Have regrets about the last thing you said to them or that you didn’t get to tell them how much they meant to you.
These feelings can be very painful to deal with on your own, so it is important that you try and talk to someone – a trusted adult, friend or you could call a helpline.
Mourning the loss of someone is not something that will go away overnight – you can’t escape these feelings, there is no quick fix, you just learn to accept what has happened and work your way through it.
“It’s such an unbelievably big moment in your life that it never leaves you, you just learn to deal with it.”
- Prince William and Harry talking about the death of their mother Princess Diana in BBC documentary Mind Over Marathon, April 2017.
In time it will get easier, there will always be good and bad days when you miss them but remember they would want you to be happy.
You could also speak to a school nurse for support and advice - they offer weekly confidential 'drop-ins' in secondary schools. Send a text to ChatHealth (07507 333356) or ask in school to find out more.
The children and young people's Emotional Wellbeing Hub provides an online referral for support and a telephone helpline (0345 600 2090) if you are worried about you or a friend's emotional wellbeing and need advice.
Visit your GP. There is no difference between seeing your GP for physical health or emotional health issues, and they will be able to help you.
Nelson’s Journey – Smiles and Tears app - features a visual diary, quotes and quick access to Childline support. Available to download via App Store and Google Play.
Child Bereavement UK app has been developed by a group of young people who have lost someone close to them. The app is called 'Grief: Support for Young People', and is aimed at 11-25 year olds who have lost someone close to them. It offers information and support about grief and feelings, as well as stories and films from bereaved young people. If you have an iPhone, you can download it in the App Store.
How can I help a grieving friend?
It can be difficult to know what to do for a friend who is grieving. In other situations when your friend is feeling down you may easily be able to cheer them up and reassure them that things will be ok, but when a friend is grieving this is not something you can fix or solve for them.
You may find they are acting differently, are ignoring, or distancing themselves from you – remember your friend is trying to deal with a lot of very painful feelings so don’t take it personally, but try and keep in touch to let them know you are there for them when they are ready.
What can I do to help?
Show you care - Let them know that you are there for them if they need to talk, need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on or just a hug.
Be prepared to see your friend in real pain - this is not easy to watch, so it is important that you are supported by others while you support your friend.
Say something – a few simple words like… “Sorry that you’re hurting, I’m here for you” Or “I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can” will make a difference.
Avoid saying cliché things like “They’re in a better place” or “I know how you feel.”
Show up – They may not want to meet up with you or feel like being around people. They may be avoiding you on social media. Again, don’t take this personally, just give them some space, but don’t say “Call or message me if you need me” and expect them to do this – thinking they need to contact you will likely be the last thing on their mind right now so instead just say you will call or check in on them in a few days to see how they are. (Grief can make simple things like making a phone call hard).