Grief and loss

Feelings of loss and grief can be really strong when you lose something or someone. You might experience a range of emotions and wonder if the pain of your loss will ever fade. No one can tell you how to feel or how to grieve but it can help to talk about it and get support from the people who care about you.

What are grief and loss?

Grief describes the feelings that you experience after you lose something that is important to you. It might be the loss of someone you love, the end of an important relationship, your parents’ divorce or perhaps being forced to give up something that you love. Sometimes even leaving school or university can leave you with feelings of loss.

Grief is a normal response to loss and it can be expressed in many different ways. You might feel sad, angry, anxious, shocked, regretful, relieved, overwhelmed, isolated, irritable or numb. 

Grief does not just affect how you feel. It can change the way you think about things, and make it difficult to concentrate or make decisions. You might also notice a change in how you feel around other people – sometimes you might prefer to be alone, other times wanting company and a distraction from your thoughts.

Looking after yourself after a loss


  • Talk about how you feel to someone you trust. Don’t be afraid to share your emotions: your tears, anger, relief etc. Share you memories, your thoughts or what you might miss most.
  • Remember it is OK to be happy, and laugh when you feel like it. Don’t feel guilty about this.
  • Think of a way to acknowledge and express your loss. It might be by writing a journal of memories, writing letters, planting a tree, writing a song – whatever feels meaningful to you.
  • Understand that certain times and days of the year may be particularly hard, like anniversaries, birthdays, family celebrations etc.
  • Take care of yourself. Try relaxation or meditation to help to manage stress and/difficult emotions.
  • Begin to return to your normal activities, study, work or social events in a way that works for you.
  • Avoid using drugs and alcohol to cope with your grief.

Is it depression?

Grief and depression are quite different but they can appear similar as they can both lead to feelings of intense sadness, insomnia, poor appetite and weight loss.

If you notice that your grief begins to get in the way of how you live, work, share relationships or live day-to-day then you it is important to get support or professional help. Your doctor, the local counsellor or online counselling services can all help you through.

Where to get support

Sometimes you need more than the help of your friends and family. 

Anxiety and depression are medical conditions and so treatment from a health professional is sometimes necessary. There are a range of health professionals available to support you while you recover from anxiety and depression.

Support groups, websites and helplines can also be a great help.

How to help a friend

It can be hard to know what to do or say when someone you know is grieving but the best approach is to be caring, thoughtful and respectful. Talk to them about how they feel, ask how you can help and talk about everyday life too. Or simply give them a hug or a note to let them know you are thinking of them. 

Offer extra support on special days; holidays, family milestones, birthdays, and anniversaries, as they often remind people of their loss. Encourage them to get help if their grief does not seem to be easing. Particularly if they have suicidal thoughts, self-harm or appear to be giving up on life.