Grief is a feeling of loss we feel when someone we love dies or leaves us.
The emotional pain of grief is normal – it’s something we will all experience at some stage. It can be a really difficult thing to go through, and it’s different for each of us.
There’s no right or wrong way to grieve – whatever you feel is OK. There are no rules and there’s no time limit.
You may grieve after:
- The death of someone you love
- Your parents split up
- Your pet dies
- A friendship ends
- Moving away from friends and family
- A traumatic experience
- A relationship breakup
- Finding out you can’t achieve a cherished dream
Grief comes with a lot of different feelings and can be an emotional roller-coaster ride of:
- Disbelief or confusion
- Anger and frustration
- A sense of longing
- Deep sadness
If your loved one or pet has died after a long illness, you might even feel relieved.
Grief can affect you:
- Emotionally – you may experience many intense and overwhelming feelings
- Physically – you may feel unwell or nauseous, tired, experience physical pain, or find it hard to sleep or eat
- Mentally – you may feel confused and find it hard to concentrate
- Socially – you may feel isolated or disconnected from others
- Spiritually – you might find yourself focusing more on the spiritual aspects of life
Coping with grief
Grief can be powerful, overwhelming, and hard to cope with. Even normal day-to-day activities like making breakfast, talking to people, and going to school can be really difficult.
Some people need time out from their normal routine. Others find comfort in sticking to their usual timetable. Whatever you feel is OK – no one can tell you how to deal with your grief.
Here are some ideas to help you get through:
- Connect - spend time with friends and whānau, share your memories of the person who died and the things you’ll miss about them. It’s OK to cry, and it’s OK to laugh too.
- Talk – it’s important you talk to other people about your feelings and what you’re going through. This way you let people know what you need and they can support you. Remember, you can always call us at 0800 Whats Up – we’re here to help
- Ask for help: - if you’re not coping well at school, ask for help – you might need a break, extensions for assignments, or counselling.
- Be creative - find other ways to let your feelings out. Some people like to write a journal or blog, others may draw or paint, sing, dance or play or listen to music. Activities like these may also help you relax during a stressful and emotional time.
- Get outdoors - fresh air and sunshine often help us feel better, so go for a walk, ride your bike, go to the beach, visit the gardens. This is especially good if you’re feeling irritated and need time to cool off.
- Be healthy - it’s easy to forget to look after yourself when you’re feeling miserable. Get some exercise, eat good food and make sure you get enough sleep.
- Be kind to yourself - it takes time to get through grief. Sometimes it takes a long time to accept how things are now – but the person you lost will always have a special place in your heart. Do things that make you feel better, and don’t put pressure on yourself to ‘get over it’.
Grief takes time
Grieving is hard and it can take a long time before you come right. There will be good days and bad days along the way. Some feelings of sadness might never go away, but you’ll learn to live with them. Remember, there’s no time limit on grief and no right or wrong way to get through it.
Supporting a grieving friend
When other people are grieving, we can feel quite awkward – it’s hard to know what to do or say, especially because we don’t want to make them feel worse than they already do. But, there are ways you can help:
- Express concern – “I’m really sorry this happened”, “It really sucks that your ___ died”
- Ask your friend how they’re feeling and listen carefully to the answer. Remember, everyone experiences grief differently, so don’t assume you know what they need or how they’re feeling.
- If you feel uncomfortable, that’s OK. You could say, “I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know that I’m here for you”.
- Let your friend talk about the person or pet that has died, but also understand if they don’t want to talk right now
- Offer practical help – you could ask your friend if there’s anything you can do to make life easier for them
- Hugs – a hug can be a big help too!