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When someone dies

When someone dies, there's no right or wrong way to feel. Bereavement is the word used to describe the loss that people feel and grief is the emotion that people go through when they've lost someone.

How does it feel when someone close to you dies?

Girl sitting in a field- looks sadThe death of someone you care for can be very distressing.

It's natural to have strong reactions when someone you love or are close to dies. It takes time to get over the death of someone you love.

It may feel overwhelming at first. You might feel scared, numb or that you have lost control and worry you may never feel okay again. This will ease over time, especially if you accept how you feel and don’t put pressure on yourself to ‘feel better’ too soon.

You can also be upset about the loss of a loved animal or pet. This can hurt as much as losing a relative or friend.

How can I deal with losing someone?

It’s important to remember that feeling upset, scared or worried are a normal part of grieving for someone who has died. You might find these emotions very tough to deal but there things you can try which can help you to cope.

You might find it helpful to:

Talk to someone who will listen to how you feel. It may be difficult to talk to people who are close to you, who are also grieving, as you may feel as if you will upset them. If your family can share their feelings then that can be helpful, but if not you can always talk to us.

Accept your feelings. No one else can tell you how you should be feeling about the death of someone close - everyone has there own way of dealing with loss. Crying is one way, and is not a weakness - it can be a huge relief to cry your feelings out. Equally if you don’t feel like crying don’t worry. There are many different ways of feeling grief, so go with how you feel and be patient with yourself. It may take time for your feelings to settle.

Try to look after yourself. Do your best to eat well and get plenty of rest. You may find that you want to sleep more, especially soon after someone has died. This is your body’s way of coping with what has happened. If you feel like it, doing some exercise may help you to de-stress and cope with tiredness and anxiety.

Remembering someone you've lost

Think about the happy times you had together, as time goes by perhaps you can collect special reminders such as photos or gifts that help you remember the good times you had together. You can keep these together in a memory box which will always be there to remind you and keep your memories alive.

Attending the funeral or memorial of the person who has died can be a good way of celebrating their life and sharing this with other people who loved them too.

  • How do people react to losing someone they love?

    Everyone reacts to death in different ways. Some of the ways that people react include:

    - Feeling shocked or numb- having trouble believing that the person has died, or that you can't take it in.

    - Angry - sometimes at other people, or at the person who has died, sometimes with everything. All of these feelings are natural responses to losing someone you love.

    - Guilty - You might be blaming yourself in some way for what has happened. Maybe you had an argument before they died, maybe you regret something that you said or did, or there might be something you wish you had done or said. Many people feel: 'If only...'. It might be helpful to ask yourself what the person you have lost might say about your feelings of guilt or regret. Would they want you to feel responsible for things in the past which can no longer be changed? What might they say to you if they were still able to talk to you? If you were really close then it may be that you can accept that they would not want you to feel too upset about things which cannot be changed. A natural death is the normal end to a life- it’s not your fault in any way.

    - Scared - The world as you have known it has changed and that can feel very scary. You might also be worried about practical things like money or where you're going to live. Things may not be the same but that doesn’t mean there won’t be happier and good times ahead in the future. You’re not alone - it can help to talk to someone to reassure you about some of the practical things you may be worried about. Talking to us can help you to find the support you need with practical issues.

    - Relieved - maybe if someone was very ill or was suffering you might feel relief that their pain has stopped. Or you might feel relieved if someone who was hurting you has died - these thoughts and feelings are normal.

    - Sad - feelings of sadness can be overwhelming. At times you might feel like you can't stop crying, or that you can't cry at all. This stage may come and go for a while. Some days may be good and some bad. It is important that you don't try and rush to feel better, or compare yourself to other people who seem to be coping better than you. Be patient and in time you should be able to get through this. It can take over a year for this to happen and you may find that birthdays and anniversaries are times when you feel the loss more.

    - Depressed - you might feel like life has no meaning anymore, and that you don't know how to go on. You may feel that the only place you want to be is with the person who has died. Talking about this with someone who will understand these difficult feelings is important so that you can get through them. Sometimes people you are close to find it too difficult to hear about these thoughts and feelings - we are always hear to listen to you and will understand how you feel. Talking to us can give you a safe space to go into depth about the difficult feelings being left behind by a loved one can bring.

    No matter how you feel, you can talk to ChildLine at any time.

  • Losing an online friend

    With a lot of young people forming friendships through social networking sites, including the ChildLine message boards, it can be extremely distressing if you find out that one of your online friends has died.

    You might feel very upset but find it difficult to explain this to others, as if they might think you have less right to feel this way because you didn’t know this person in the ‘real’ world. However losing an online friend, especially one that you felt close to, can bring about the same feelings of loss and grief as losing a friend you know in person.

    If this happens, you might find it helpful to speak to other young people who were also online friends with that person, or you can always speak to ChildLine at any time about how you are feeling.

  • What happens at a funeral and memorial service?

    Funerals can be a bit scary especially if you have never been to one before. There are many different kinds of funerals but usually it is a religious ceremony for friends and family to celebrate the life of the person who has died. Prayers might be said and family members or friends may be invited to say a little about the person. Sometimes they will play music or read poetry which was special to them. Different religions may have slightly different ways of holding this ceremony. It is a way of saying a final goodbye to the person who has died and cremating or burying their body.

    At a cremation the coffin will be taken away at the end of the service, usually behind a curtain or lowered down, later the coffin and the body will be burned and the ashes that are left are given back to family or friends. After a cremation the ashes are either buried or scattered in a place which the person loved. This is usually set out in a will- these are instructions which people can leave to let their families know what they want to happen after their death. If you want to talk about any worries you have about going to a funeral or memorial, or have any questions we’re here for you.

    If the person is buried in a special place, usually a cemetery or churchyard, then often a gravestone with the person’s name marks the spot as a permanent place where loved ones can bring flowers or other things to show how much they cared for the person who has died. This is a comforting thing for a lot of people to do as a regular reminder of how special the person was to them.

Other sites that can help

The Cruse Bereavement Centre for young people
RD4U

Support for bereaved children and young people
Winston's Wish

Feeling sad?

It is natural to feel sad after losing someone you love. You can get support from others who are going through the same thing on the ChildLine message board.

Bereavement message board

Anything missing?

Is there any other information or advice you'd like to see about losing someone you're close to?

 
 
 
 
 
When someone dies 

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