When someone dies

When someone dies, there's no right or wrong way to feel. Everyone experiences loss or bereavement 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. These feelings are sometimes called grief. 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 try to accept how you feel.

You might also be upset about the death of an animal or pet. Or when someone's still alive but you're not able to see or talk to them anymore. This can hurt as much as a relative or friend dying.

4 things to remember

  • Talk to someone who'll listen to how you feel – it can really help.
  • However you're feeling is okay, cry if you feel like it.
  • Look after yourself – remember to eat well and get plenty of rest.
  • Things can get easier over time.

Coping with Loss

ways to cope when someone dies

It's important to remember that feeling upset, scared or worried is normal. Lots of people feel this way after someone has died, but it's also okay if you don't.

If someone dies suddenly, you might feel shocked or anxious. You might find your emotions very tough to deal with but there are things that can help you cope.

Reactions to losing someone you love

Everyone reacts to death differently. And there's no right or wrong way to feel. When someone dies, you might feel:

Who to talk to about how you’re feeling

It can be difficult knowing who to talk to if you’re worried about upsetting someone or if you feel like they won’t understand. If someone else is grieving too you might not want to bother them. But sharing your feelings can really help. And you only need to tell people what you feel comfortable sharing. 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.  

Saying goodbye to someone who has died

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.

Find out more about supporting a friend.

Feeling loss when someone hasn’t died

There are lots of ways someone might feel like they've lost someone or something, even when nobody's died. You might:

  • miss someone after a relationship has ended
  • not be allowed to see someone in your family anymore
  • have a family member with dementia
  • move home or change schools
  • not see your family after going into care
  • have moved on from services that support you.

Losing someone or something can bring up many of the same feelings as when someone has died. Especially if you can't talk to the person you've lost.

Whatever's happened, it can really help to talk about how you're feeling to someone you trust or with Childline. If you're struggling, sometimes it can help to create something in the Art box.

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.
  • The Miscarriage Association can support you if you have had a miscarriage.