Grief, Loss and Death

 What is grief?

Grief is an emotional response to loss. Loss can include: the death of a family member, friend, pet, someone significant; illness and its impact; losing something really important to you, or the end of a relationship. You may feel a whole range of emotions and be impacted physically, mentally and socially.

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve and everyone grieves in different ways. You might feel angry, sad, depressed, guilty, relieved, or any other number of emotions. Or you might be numb and not feel anything at all. However, you’re feeling is okay and is a normal reaction to losing someone.

Because we all grieve differently, how you react might be different to how other people around you react. For example, the way you grieve might be influenced by your culture, beliefs, or how your family and community understand loss. Your grief might also be influenced by what you feel others expect of you, but it’s important to remember that however you’re feeling is valid – there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t react to loss the way others do.

While it’s important to look after yourself when grieving, it’s also important to be sensitive to how other people are grieving and accept that everyone’s experience is unique.

Remember, too, that grief can come up at any time. There might be some occasions when you are expecting it, like when you experience one of many ‘firsts’, such as your first holiday or birthday without that person. Or these feelings might catch you unaware sometimes. It might be that you don’t feel anything for a while, and then experience delayed grief. All of these experiences are normal.

What can help?

If you feel as though your grief is making it hard for you to go about daily life, talking about it can be really helpful and is often the first step to feeling better. Speak to a trusted friend or family member, or contact our Therapy Service on to talk to one of our therapeutic counsellors. They can offer one-off drop-in appointments or weekly counselling sessions.

You may find it helpful to express your grief in different ways. Here are some things you could try to help communicate how you are feeling:

  • Write a letter to the person you have lost telling them all the things you want to say to them
  • Write a letter to someone who is supporting you, so they know what you are going through
  • Keep a diary or journal of how you feel
  • Express yourself through paintings or pictures
  • Create a memory box full of pictures and items which remind you of good times you had with the person you have lost
  • Write a song or poem


Supporting your child who is grieving

If your child is struggling to cope with their grief, click on the link below to find out how you can support them and places you can get help.