Information Centre

Managing grief

Loss and Grief

Dealing with grief is one of the hardest parts of life.  When someone you love dies, you can get really over-whelmed.

It might feel like no one else could understand how sad or empty or furious you feel.  But, it’ll get easier, bit by bit and there’s stuff you can do to manage it until it does.   Here’s some ways you can try to start.

Accept your feelings

First up, there’s no right or wrong way to feel after losing someone you care about.   Accepting the feelings you have – sadness, guilt, anger, relief (yeah, that can be normal too) or even nothing at all.

Knowing they’re part of grieving can make you go easier on yourself.  You’re going through an incredibly stressful time and really intense, mixed up feelings are par for the course.

Let yourself cry

Crying can actually be really helpful, like opening a pressure valve.  It’s definitely not a sign of weakness, just a way of getting out what’s going on in your head, so if you feel like crying, cry.

There’s no deadline for getting over what you’re going through.  If you feel uncomfortable about crying in front of people, like if you’re in school or at home with your family, make a plan to have somewhere safe you can go to let it out.

Good places include:

  • the park (fresh air always helps)
  • a quiet room
  • your school counsellor’s office
  • your favourite spot, somewhere nearby where you feel comfortable.

If you’re in school, it might be a good idea to let your teacher know at the beginning of class that you might need to leave the room if you get upset. Then, if it happens you can just slip out and he/she will know what’s going on and that you’re safe.

Take time out

Your family or friends might be grieving too.  They’re going to handle these feelings in their own way.  At times like this everyone’s reactions can get exaggerated.

People might get stressed out or lose their temper over stuff that wouldn’t normally bother them.  If you’re having trouble, give yourself some time out.  Try the following:

  • go for a walk
  • listen to music
  • go see a film
  • hang out with your friends
  • play some football.

It’s OK to smile

Don’t feel guilty about having fun or having a laugh with your friends. It doesn’t mean you’ve stopped missing the person you lost.

It’s OK to feel happy about other things. Nobody expects you to be sad all the time. Having a laugh can help you feel like yourself again. See moving back into your routines for more.

Talk to your family, friends or counsellor about the happy or funny memories you have of the person you lost.

It’s OK to enjoy those memories and have a laugh about the things you remember or did together.  This isn’t a sign you miss the person any less.

Saying goodbye matters

Part of the grieving process is letting go of the person you lost. Saying goodbye when you’re ready is important.  Go to their funeral, write them a letter, or go somewhere that meant something to the two of you.

It’s totally up to you when and how you say goodbye to them, but it does help.

Get it off your chest

When you keep your feelings to yourself, tension starts to build up inside and you can get overwhelmed by it.  Finding a way to express what’s going on in your head really helps.

Talk to someone or write your thoughts down.  Punch some pillows.  Draw, or if you play music, play it loud. W hatever works for you.

When we’re stressed out, our muscles often react by getting pretty tense and tight.  Playing sport, going to the gym, going to a yoga class or having a massage are all really good ways of getting rid of that tension.

You mightn’t even have realised how tense you were, but you’ll be surprised by how much better you can feel. 

Talk to someone

Talking to someone about how you’re doing is really helpful. It might be a parent, a friend or a youth worker, whoever you’re comfortable with.

It can also be good to talk about what you’re going through with people who’ve been through something similar.