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A-Z of bereavement

A-Z of bereavement


Anger is a very normal feeling when someone in your family has died. Angry at the person who has died, other people in the family, yourself, doctors, God.


Being ‘bereaved’ is one way of describing what you are when someone close to you has died.  


You might not understand grief – it is a confusing time for everyone. It can help to talk to someone else in your family, a teacher or a professional. 


At a time when you really need to sleep, you may find yourself troubled by difficult dreams. 


Your emotions will be all over the place when someone you care about has died. You may feel lots of different things – sad, angry, confused, worried, relieved, fed up. You may feel all of these at the same time.   


Funerals give us a chance to say goodbye and are a time to think about the person who died. You may not be sure whether or not you want to attend. It’s okay, either way.  


Guilt is normal – it may follow if the bereaved person feels they could have acted differently and so prevented a death.  


Lots of different people might say you should get some help. Help comes in lots of shapes and sizes and from many different people. You may not always think you need any help – and the time has to be right for you. But it can be helpful to talk to someone who really wants to listen to you.  


Sometimes it helps to find out more information about things that are worrying you – if you know what you are dealing with then it can be easier to sort things out.  


Don’t feel bad. Laughter is normal and it’s ok to laugh and tell jokes even after someone has died.  


Sometimes it’s nice to have keepsakes to remind you of the person who died. This might be something like a watch or ring, or maybe an item of clothing you always used to borrow and get into trouble for.  

Letting off steam 

Sometimes your feelings can build up and explode, particularly angry feelings – so it’s good to find a safe way of letting off steam 


It’s natural to miss someone after they have died. It is a big loss and often you will miss them when doing things you used to do together or something they liked to do.  

Not fair 

It’s normal to feel as though it’s not fair when someone you care about has died. Why should it have happened in your family? What did the person do wrong? What did you do wrong?  


You may struggle to remain optimistic about the future when someone close has died. Your future is still important even though it may be very different to the life you had planned. Strive to hold on to your hopes and dreams for the future. 


Parents will be grieving too, especially if their partner or child has died. This means they are not always emotionally available to offer you the support you need.  


Everyone has questions when someone they care about has died. You might have questions about medical facts, about death, grief and your feelings. However, you may also have to accept that some questions, such as why someone chose to take their own life, can never be answered. It’s difficult but not impossible to live with not knowing the answer. 


Having had someone in your life die will change you as a person and some relationships may well be strained by this. It can sometimes be easy to lose touch with friends after someone has died.   

Suicidal feelings 

After someone important has died, those left behind may sometimes have suicidal feelings – wondering what is the point of living without that person. It is important to talk through these feelings with someone you can trust to listen to how you are feeling; you can call the Samaritans at any time of any day (116 123). 


Talking helps. Talking about the person who has died, about what happened, about how you are thinking and feeling.  


Just about everyone who has ever been bereaved will feel upset. Feeling ‘upset’ has got within it bits of feeling sad, bits of feeling fearful, bits of feeling confused and bits of feeling as if everything has been taken and turned upside down.  


Feeling vulnerable can come with being bereaved. You don’t expect people close to you to die – especially if they were not old. The world can seem an unsafe, insecure place. It may make you worry more about other members of the family or about your own health. 


Why – is a small word for the biggest question. Why they died? Why they died in the way they did? No one can really answer the ‘why’ questions; but it helps to have someone to listen while you ask them. 


Being bereaved brings with it a lot of extra stuff. You may find yourself with extra responsibilities – more chores, looking after younger brothers or sisters. You may find yourself with extra worries or concerns. You may find yourself with extra stress. You may find yourself with extra-strong feelings, thoughts and reactions. 


Yelling can help relieve some of your tension and frustration. It’s normal and ok to lose your temper from time to time. You may find yourself yelling at those around you or you may find it helps to go off alone and yell at the sky. “I kept on yelling at my family and friends, for no real reason.” 

Zzz… sleep 

Zzz… sleep can be affected after a death in the family.  You may find it’s hard to get to sleep because when your head hits the pillow, you find yourself thinking about what has happened and how you feel.