What is grief?

You may be thinking many confusing thoughts and feeling lots of different emotions. All that you think and feel about the person who has died or is going to die is called grief.

This section is intended to give you some information about grief – but don’t worry if you read it and think “Well, I am not feeling any of those things”. Some feelings and thoughts are common but you are an individual and there is no right or wrong way to grieve.

Be as you are and ask for help if you need it.

Pressures of school, college or work

It can be a help to go back to school after the death because you can see friends, have fun and find the routine helpful. It helps to know that life can go on. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult, especially if something you are doing involves talking about families or death or dying. Sometimes it can be hard to concentrate or to cope with the noise of school. It can help to let someone know if you are struggling. Some schools, for example, will help by offering a quiet place to sit if you are feeling overwhelmed. It may be that you have some close friends who can offer some support at break or lunch time.

Expected and unexpected grief

There are times that you know are going to be difficult and to some extent you can ‘prepare’ for them either on your own or with someone else, such as anniversaries or birthdays. So for example, you could work out a plan to visit your special place to remember with other family members. There may be other times when something ‘hits’ you out of the blue – that might be a smell of perfume as you pass someone in the street, or music playing in a shop. It may be visiting a relative you haven’t seen for a long time and seeing a photograph you’ve never seen before.

How long will it last?

There is no set time for how long we grieve after someone has died. It can depend on many things. However, it is unusual for our grief feelings to stay the same. They change over time just as we change, but this is not the same as forgetting the person who died. Sometimes we can be worried that if we stop feeling like this then we will forget the person. This is not so, but just that remembering them can become less painful. Sometimes, though, new situations in our lives can make us remember that they are not here any more and this can cause new and unexpected feelings. These, too, will change and pass in time.