Bereavement is the word used to describe the loss that people feel when someone close to them dies. Grief is the emotion that people go through as a result of the loss of someone they loved.

If someone close to you has died, there will be a great big gap where they used to be. 

This page is mostly about bereavement when someone dies. But any big life changes such as leaving school, moving away from home or the ending of an important relationship can cause similar painful feelings of loss or bereavement, and you may need time and support to come to terms with living without something or someone familiar and valuable to you. Talk to any of the helplines, and try to find things which can help you find value in different ways.

People can die because of an illness- such as cancer, an accident- such as a car crash, or old age.

It might have been sudden, unexpected, an accident or violent, or after a long illness and something you have been expecting for a long time. They might even have committed suicide.

You won't know how you are going to feel until it has happened.

Childline describe the many ways you may be feeling:

  • 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.

  • 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. ChildLine (and others) are always there to listen to you and will understand how you feel. Talking to them can give you a safe space to go into depth about the difficult feelings being left behind by a loved one can bring.  

Losing a loved animal or pet can hurt as much as losing a relative or friend. Watch ChildLine's animation about a boy whose dog has died.

However it happened, you are not alone

Young people made their own film about what it was like when someone close was murdered.


There is special help for you if someone close to you has comitted suicide. There is a whole web site specially for people who have lost someone who committed suicide, Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS), inlcuding specifically for young people.  You can download information and help leaflets and read other people's experiences.   

Who have you lost? Rd4u shares personal stories of losing people with particular roles in your life.

If you became a teenage parent, you might have suffered a miscarriage or lost a baby. Get help from organisations who counsel parents and especially mums of all ages such as local Care Confidential branches listed on the sexual health and pregnancy page.

There is also special help for young people who have lost siblings - brothers or sisters - from the Compassionate Friends sibling support, because when a child has died it is not just hard for the parents. They have a helpline as well as support by email. They also have leaflets, and books which you may be able to borrow by post from their library or buy for yourself. You can share your experiences and get support from other people who are hurting. There is a forum you can join online.

Othe young people share their stories on Child Bereavement Uk:

If you think that parents, friends and teachers don't understand how you feel and how you want them to treat you, you could show them the videos from Child Bereavement made by other young people who have been bereaved. If you are having a hard time at school after losing someone, get some tips on how to get help from the in education page.

The Child Bereavement Network can tell you if there are local services near you, other young people share their experiences of bereavement, and you can print off a letter to give to a friend asking for their help if you can't find your own words to explain.

Winston's Wish has lots of stuff for young people who have lost someone important. You can call or email them, post a message to share, write on the graffiti wall and print it off, and many other ideas to help you deal with your grief. Watch their dvds of other young people who lost their fathers and Germaine, who nearly lost the plot as well.

It might be very important to talk to someone who will understand not just how you feel right now but who can help you deal with the practical stuff.

Supportline have a special section on bereavement and a huge list of other organisations who can help in just about every kind of way someone has died, including by road accidents and being the victim of violent crime, how to deal with funerals, inquests and what other things you might need to know when someone dies. Some of this stuff will get sorted out by adults around you but you may need to understand what is happening or even try to help and support them.

RD4U is a website designed for young people by young people. It is part of Cruse Bereavement Care's Youth Involvement Project and there to support you after the death of someone close. RD4U means the 'road for you'- the main aim of this site is to let you find your own 'road' to dealing with your loss. There is a phone helpline on
0808 808 1677
  Monday - Friday, 9:00 - 5:00 pm, you can also email a counsellor. They have a leaflet and information and advice for dealing with loss. Cruse have local branches in Cambridge, Huntingdon and Peterborough.

They show you how to use a timeline to chart feelings change over time. There is no 'right' way you are supposed to feel after someone dies. Read about different young people's experiences and feelings at various times after someone has died. Each experience is as unique as the individual. Your feelings will probably change over time, but that doesn't mean the person who has died will stop being important to you.

RD4U suggest ways to cope including writing as if to the person who died, remembering and moving on. They also tackle how you feel and what to do about feeling bad enough to think about self-harm or even suicide.

You can read about and even visit, if you are able to, the Seeds of Hope Children's Garden which aims to help you explore your feelings of loss in a vibrant natural setting where birth and death can be seen as a natural part of the life cycle.

Your life will go on and it's ok to get on with it. Child Bereavement UK helped make this video called Messages for bereaved young people.

Winston's Wish help you keep your memories special by putting  a star in the sky  and making your own jar of memories, and 10 ideas of things to do on special days when it might be even harder, as well as keeping track of how you feel in time and comparing with other young people. If your mum died, probably mothers' day is hard for you - listen to a podcast of how other young people find it. There is also a forum where you can say how you feel once you have registered.

You can leave a permanent memorial message for the special dates (birthday and date of death) on the sibling support site.

RD4U give you the chance to share by posting messages, artwork or photos, write poems or stories to do with who or what you have lost.

Don't be afraid to remember, or to talk about the person you have lost, whether they were good or bad to you in real life. If they hurt you, they can't do it any more and getting on with your life is the best way to show that they didn't win. Don't spoil your life with anger, bitterness or regret. Talk to the bereavement helplines from the organisations on this page, get counselling to deal with it and move on.

Everyone has their own way of keeping the memory alive and if they were good and you loved them,you will find your own. Emma's friend who died is remembered in the charity Rosie's Rainbow set up by her parents, but if you can't be part of anything that big, plant a shrub, tree, rosebush. Paint a picture, make something which that person would have liked, do something or be somebody they would have been proud of. Be a living memorial and a better person for them having been in your life, however short that time was.

Internal Links

The page was last updated on 02 July 2014 by andrea.bateman.

explore a guide to rough times

Contact our PALS team

need help, fast?

find out who to contact in a crisis

What's your problem?

what's making things rough?

explore the issues affecting your emotional and physical wellbeing

Get a life

enhance your life

find out how to boost your self esteem, relax and recharge

My liked pages

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust,Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital,Cambridge, CB21 5EF,T 01223 726789