Coming to terms with grief


Losing someone you love is one of the most difficult life events to come to terms with. All of us grieve differently, and grief affects us all in numerous ways – emotionally and physically. It’s important to remember that all reactions to grief are valid, and there isn’t one approach that is better or worse than another – the important thing is to do what seems best for you and your situation.  

Emotional responses

When you lose someone you love you’ll face some very intense feelings. This is still true if the loss of your loved one was expected, and you felt prepared for what was to come. Typical emotions include sadness, confusion, anger, guilt and relief. However, it’s important not to judge your feelings – they might change hour by hour, or day by day.  

Physical responses

As well as the emotional side of loss, you may experience physical signs too. You might find it difficult to eat or sleep or concentrate on tasks you’d usually find it easy to cope with. Normal activities might feel impossible to tackle. As well as these responses you may feel anxious, tired or lethargic.  

Dealing with grief

There are some ways in which you can start to cope with grief. The most important step is to find what works best for you. 

  • Share how you’re feeling – don’t keep your grief to yourself; talking to friends and family could help you start to come to terms with your loss. 
  • Seek professional help – there is a range of online and face-to-face options for professional help. Many bereavement charities run support lines, or you may be able to access help if your loved one was cared for by a hospice or community nursing team. 
  • Say your goodbyes – taking part in activities to remember the person you’ve lost, including funerals and memorial services, can help you to reflect, remember and give you time with other people who are feeling the same loss. 
  • Create coping mechanisms – taking a walk at a favourite spot, cooking a meal you both enjoyed or lighting a candle for the person you’ve lost might bring you some comfort. Find something which feels right for you, although remember it may trigger emotions too.  
  • Be kind to yourself – sometimes the most important step is to just be. Do whatever it is that you need to do in that moment – whether it’s sleep, rest, talking to someone who can listen or just reflecting on your emotions and letting them guide you for that moment.   


There are a range of online resources which can help you if you are struggling with grief including:  

  • Cruse – the UK’s leading bereavement charity with a national helpline, online chat and local support branches  
  • Marie Curie – an end-of-life charity who have a number of helpful articles including a piece about ‘Grieving Your Way’  
  • Mind – offers information on bereavement, where to go for support and suggestions for helping yourself and others through grief 

Suggested reading

Bereavement Advice
When the time comes
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