When someone dies

When someone dies, there's no right or wrong way you should feel. Everyone experiences bereavement (the loss that people feel) differently. But you don’t have to cope on your own. We’re always here for you.

Grieving and dealing with loss

The death of someone you care about can be very difficult. You can also be upset about the death of an animal or pet. This can hurt as much as a relative or friend dying. It's natural to have strong reactions when someone you love or are close to dies.

You might feel:

  • like you can't handle things
  • confused
  • scared, numb or that you’ve lost control
  • worried that you may never feel okay again.

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to feel better straight away. These feelings will change over time. It's important to accept how you feel.

3 ways to cope with grief:

  • talk to someone who’ll listen to how you feel
  • try to accept your feelings – cry if you feel like it
  • look after yourself – remember to eat well and get plenty of rest.

Coping with Loss

How to cope when someone dies

It’s important to remember that feeling upset, scared or worried is normal. It's natural for you to feel this way if someone has died. You might find these emotions very tough to deal with but there are things that can help you cope.

When a death is unexpected

Sometimes people die very unexpectedly. You might find that, as well as the pain of losing someone you love, you’re also dealing with severe shock, anxiety or fear.

If the person you love ended their own life, it can be a very confusing and frightening time for you. If they died as a result of an accident or an attack, you might find that you’re also processing the shock of what happened for a while.

It’s important to get support if you’re dealing with this kind of bereavement. A Childline counsellor is always there to listen and can provide advice about who to contact if you need further support. You can always call Childline on 0800 1111 to speak to someone who cares.

Reactions to losing someone you love

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

Who to talk to about how you’re feeling

However you’re feeling, you don't have to cope on your own. You can get support by talking to people. You could try talking to:

If you’re finding things difficult, it might be a good idea to visit your doctor. They may be able to give you some support with getting through the first few months as you adjust to such a big change.  

Losing someone to suicide

Someone dying can affect you no matter how it happens. But when someone takes their own life it can feel even more difficult to cope. You might be:

  • scared or worried about how other people might react
  • angry at the person who died
  • guilty or ashamed about things you feel you could’ve done differently
  • confused about why they took their own life
  • feeling rejected or ignored by the person who died
  • numb or relieved about someone’s suffering being over.

3 ways to help you cope:

  • Talk to someone you trust - Talk to your family, a friend or even a Childline Counsellor about how you're feeling.
  • Write things down - This can help you to understand things more. You could keep what you’ve written, show someone or even destroy it.
  • Keep a memory box - In a box, keep different things that remind you of the person who died.

When an online friend dies

It can be really difficult if you find out that one of your online friends has died. You might feel very upset but find it hard to explain this to others. Some people might think you shouldn’t feel so sad because you didn’t know this person in the ‘real’ world.

But 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 people who were also online friends with them. You could also speak to an adult you trust about how you feel. Childline counsellors are here to listen to you and support you.

Memory stones

Speak to an adult you trust about helping you to find 3 small stones – a smooth stone, a rough stone and a gemstone.

When you have all 3, follow these steps:

  1. Smooth stone – Hold the stone in your hand and think about the ordinary memories of the person who died, like their favourite food or drink or what kind of shoes they wore.
  2. Rough stone – Hold the stone in your hand and think about some of your difficult memories, like what happened when you first found out they died.
  3. Gemstone – Hold the stone in your hand and think about your special memories of the person, like TV you used to watch together or any holidays you went on.

Keep all of the stones together somewhere safe. When you feel ready you could show the stones to an adult you trust to share the different memories or tell a Childline counsellor about them.

Talking about what each of the stones represent can help you feel able to hold the stones in one hand together. It can remind you that even with the difficult memories you can still have the ordinary and special memories too.

It can take time to find the words and to begin to understand what has happened. But Childline is here to talk to you any time.

Olly Alexander from Years & Years talks about opening up

Feeling depressed, sad or unhappy?

Dealing with stress and anxiety

Helping someone else cope with death

It can be hard for you when a family member or friend is finding it difficult to cope with the death of someone.
You can try:

  • letting them know that you’re there to listen to them
  • giving them space if they want to be alone
  • being there for them if they want to cry or talk about their feelings
  • encouraging them to think of the happy times they had with the person who died
  • reminding them that it can take a long time to feel better and that this is normal
  • doing things like make a cup of tea for them or help with chores.

Sometimes things at home can change when someone dies. Normal routines may be different. There may be a different adult who looks after you. If you have a younger brother or sister, you may have to support them too.

Remember that you can't be responsible for making them feel better. It can sometimes be hard to help someone – so it's important that you get support for yourself too. You could do this by talking to a Childline counsellor or asking an adult for help.

You may also find our pages on family relationships and being a young carer helpful.

Saying goodbye to someone who has died

Other sites that can help: 

  • Hope Again is the Cruse Bereavement Care website for young people living after loss
  • Grief Encounter provides advice, coping tips, blogs and information for bereaved young people
  • Winston's Wish offers support for bereaved children and young people
  • Child Bereavement isthere to give you support
  • Sands can help anyone affected by the death of a baby
  • The Miscarriage Association can support you if you have had a miscarriage
  • Hope offer support if you have a family member with a life-threatening illness and a helpline you can call on 01989 566317