How do I cope with exam results day while grieving?

How do I cope with exam results day while grieving?

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Milestones or life events, such as exam results day, can trigger your grief and bring up lots of emotions. From feeling sad that your important person isn’t there to share the day with to guilty for celebrating your results, there is no right or wrong way to feel on results day. Here are some of the ways grief can impact you on exam results day and what can help you to cope.

How can grief impact revision and exams?

Studying for exams while you are grieving is hard and you should be vey proud, whatever your results are. Grief can affect your concentration, meaning you drift off or can’t take things in. This can make schoolwork and revision very difficult.

You may also have had to cope with lots of other huge changes, like moving house, taking on more responsibilities at home or looking after your brothers and sisters. This means you have less time to concentrate on school and revising for exams.

Sometimes, you can apply for ‘special consideration’ with your exams when you have experienced a bereavement. Speak to your school or college and they will be able to tell you how.

How might I feel on exam results day?

Sad that your important person isn’t there

Results day may remind you that your special person isn’t there to share this moment with. You may miss a family member telling you how proud they are of you or a friend who should be collecting their results too. Or it could make you realise that your sibling won’t ever reach this milestone. Remember that it’s ok to be sad or think and talk about that person.

Guilty for celebrating your results

You may want to celebrate your results but feel guilty about being happy and celebrating while you should be grieving. Remember that celebrating or feeling happy isn’t a sign that you miss that person any less or that you are not grieving.


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Worried you have let people down

You may feel like you have let people down, including the person who has died, if you don’t get the results you hoped for. Remember that doing exams while you are grieving is really hard and you should be proud of yourself.

Lonely and on your own

If the person who died was a parent figure, you might feel like you have to do the next step, whether that’s applications, clearing, appeals or placements, on your own and without their support. There are lots of people who can help – family members, friends, teachers, organisations and charities – talk to someone who can help you make a plan.

What can help on results day?

  • Make a plan for results day so you feel prepared to cope with the day
  • Remember to be proud of yourself, even just taking your exams while you are grieving is a huge achievement
  • Remember that it’s ok to be sad or think about your important person
  • Remember that it’s ok to have fun, celebrate or feel happy and it doesn’t mean that you miss that person any less
  • Talk to someone about how you feel and don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Do something to remember your special person so it feels like they are a part of your day
  • Write a letter to them to tell them about your results and what you are doing next. This can really help to express your feelings
  • If you think you will be upset, plan to be with certain people, do something or visit a special place

Get support

If you are a bereaved young person (aged 0-25) who is struggling with their grief, please call our Freephone Helpline team on 08088 020 021 or email ask@winstonswish.org. We can provide advice, support and resources.

If you need urgent support, the Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger is available 24/7 for free, confidential support in a crisis. Text WW to 85258.