Bereavement and loss of a loved one (such as a family member, friend or pet) can be devastating. People may also feel a sense of loss when an important relationship ends (such as a relationship break up or friendship break down). When someone experiences a bereavement or loss, it can be hard to understand, process, or adjust. They may experience many thoughts and feelings including, sadness, worry, anger, or confusion. If the person they have lost has been unwell, they may experience other feelings such as relief. Some people may not experience any strong feelings at all. There is no right or wrong way to feel think or behave; everyone processes grief differently. Some days they may feel more able to cope than other days.
What it might look like if someone is struggling with bereavement or loss:
Everyone processes grief differently. However, you may notice the following;
A range of emotions from sadness, anger, fear, relief or even nothing at all
Difficulties accepting the loss
A sense of guilt, regret, or responsibility
Difficulties concentrating and poor motivation; you may notice, or they may report it being harder to do school work, or home work
Preferring to be by themselves; not wanting to speak to, or spend time with other people, OR not wanting to be by themselves, and wanting to be close to people they feel comfortable with
Having worries that bad things might happen to them, or other people they love and care about
Having thoughts or urges about wanting to end their life to be with the loved one they have lost
Constant thoughts about what has happened to the loved one they have lost
Disinterest and loss of enjoyment in hobbies and interests
Difficulty sleeping (nightmares, difficulties getting to, or staying asleep, early morning wakening)
For some young people they may wet the bed at night (this is often a sign of unhappiness and stress)
Loss of appetite or comfort eating
Things that might help someone struggling with bereavement or loss:
Acknowledging and normalising that it is usual to feel a range of emotions from sadness, anger, fear, relief or even nothing at all. Some people find anniversaries and certain days (such as birthdays) harder to deal with, so thinking together about how to manage particularly tough days or dates can be helpful.
Try to keep normal routines going as much as possible.
Encourage your young person to keep doing activities they enjoy and spend time with friends and family. Let them know that it is okay to feel happy, to laugh or to have fun. This does not mean that they don’t care about the person they have lost.
If they are finding it hard to talk about how they feel, they might find it easier to write down how they are feeling, rather than talk.
Create a memory box full of pictures and items which remind them of good times they had with the person they have lost
Grieving takes a lot of energy. Make sure they eat, drink and rest regularly. Physical activity and getting outside for fresh air daily can help.