When someone dies

When someone or something dies, there is no right or wrong way to feel - the experience is different for everyone
Young person comforting supporting adult

People who have lost a family member, friend, pet or someone they know report all kinds of feelings:

Shaky - Sad - Different - Awkward - Helpless - Angry - Scared - Cold - Lonely - Tired - Guilty - Relieved - Numb - Anxious - Confused - Shocked - Empty - Abandoned - Bitter - Surprised - Tearful - Sensitive - Low

This mixture of feelings is called grief. Grief is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

Signs of grief

When you are grieving, you might:

  • Get angry more or find it difficult to be around people
  • Find it hard to concentrate or enjoy things
  • Be more worried or less scared than normal

Grieving can take a long time. Every situation is different. Most people find it helps to take extra care of themselves and others. 

Crucial: Oxfordshire charity Seesaw can provide grief support for children (up to the age of 18) when a parent or sibling (brother or sister) has died.

What you can do to help yourself

There are things that you can do that might help you feel better. These include:

  • Talking about how you feel to anyone you trust and can be comfortable with
  • Exercising – this releases endorphins which are natural chemicals that make you feel happier
  • Having fun with your friends – don’t feel guilty about it!

Sometimes you can find that that nothing you do makes you feel good, or that things that usually make you happy make you feel nothing, or feel worse. This is a normal part of grief.

People who have been in this situation have this advice to give:

  • Don't give up on the things you enjoy; carry on doing them, and you will feel better - eventually
  • Try doing something different, especially something active; I started running every morning and it helped
  • If you are finding it too difficult, ask for help - from friends, family members, your doctor, or at school

Crucial: Feeling sad after someone has died is normal, but if you are feeling desperate or thinking about suicide, then you need to talk to an adult you trust now. If you can't think of anyone call Childline on 0800 1111.

How long does grief last?

There is no right or wrong length of time to feel grief. In a sense, you never stop feeling grief, because the feelings stay with you. But in time, the feelings are less intense, and you can remember the good things, without being overwhelmed by sadness.

Experience: Pets are important too! If a much-loved pet dies then you can still grieve for them in the same way as you would a person. Lots of people think it doesn’t count if an animal dies but of course it does. They were part of your family and you loved them. If they have to be put down or they die suddenly it can leave you feeling terribly sad. You might also get angry if people say ‘You can always get another cat/dog/fish’. They mean well when they say this but it doesn’t help, does it? You want your pet back, not a new one. - Anon, Oxon

Find out how to help if someone is struggling after a pet bereavement.

Find out more

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