Moving on

Most people find that, as time goes on, they will begin to adjust and have more good days than bad. Their feelings will be less intense and they can begin to look to the future. Things might continue to be difficult from time to time, but it tends to happen less often.

The time to return to work will vary for each person. Talk to your employer about how you are coping. You may find it easier to work from home or work part time for a while.

Anniversaries, birthdays and festive occasions can be very difficult, particularly during the first year. With time, these feelings will often get less intense. You may find it helpful to do something special to mark an anniversary or birthday. Or make time at a celebration to remember your relative or friend.

Social events can also be hard. You may find it helpful to start off by going to them for a shorter period of time, or ask if you can take a relative or close friend along with you.

Moving on after someone close to you has died

You may continue to have days when you feel overwhelmed by grief for many months and sometimes years. But as time goes on, most people will begin to adjust and have more good days than bad. They find they start to have times when their feelings are less intense and they can begin to look to the future. Life will never be the same again following the death of a relative or friend. But it can continue and be fulfilling in a different way.

As time passes, most people reach a point where they are able to remember their relative or friend and talk about them without feeling overwhelmed by their feelings. They start to enjoy things again, feel more comfortable at work and feel able to join in and enjoy different activities.

Things might continue to be difficult from time to time, and you may sometimes feel overwhelmed by your emotions again. This is not unusual, but it tends to happen less often as time goes on.


Returning to work

The time to return to work will vary for each person. Some people feel able to carry on working and need to take very little time off, while others need longer. Sometimes people who return to work quite quickly find they need to take some time off later on.

Let your employer know how you’re coping and talk to them about the best way for you to return to work. You may find it easier to work from home or work part-time for a while, if it is possible. It can also be helpful to talk to your employer about telling your colleagues, and about whether you’re happy for them to contact you while you’re off.

There are many organisations that can support you at this time, including the ones listed in our organisations database.


Special dates

You may find anniversaries, birthdays and festive occasions very difficult after the death of your relative or friend, particularly during the first year. People describe beginning to feel better and then suddenly feeling shocked about the strength of their emotions again.

With time, these feelings will often get less intense. Some people find it helpful to do something special to mark an anniversary or birthday. Or they make time at a celebration to remember their relative or friend.

For example, you could:

  • sit quietly in a place that has special memories for you
  • let off balloons at a family celebration
  • post on a memorial page on a social media site (see below)
  • organise an event in memory of your relative or friend (see below).


Social events

Social events can be very difficult after the death of your relative or friend. This can be especially true if it’s your partner who has died and you are not used to going to things on your own.

Going out with family or friends can also bring back memories of similar occasions when your relative or friend was with you, which can be upsetting.

You may find it helpful to start off by going to social events for a shorter period of time, instead of staying for the whole thing. You could also ask if you can take a relative or close friend along with you.

Some people find it helpful to join a support group. Other people join a club or start a new hobby where other people may be joining or starting on their own.


Social media and memorialised accounts

Your relative or friend may have had a Facebook or other social media account. When someone dies, it is possible to convert some of these accounts into a memorialised account. This allows you and other family members and friends to share memories. You can get information about these accounts from most social media websites.

You can also create a new group on a social media site, where you and other people can share memories of your relative or friend.


In-memory events

Some people find it helpful to remember or celebrate the life of their relative or friend by donating or raising money for charity.

It is one way that people can:

  • express their grief
  • channel their energy
  • focus on moving forward.

If you would like to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, we have more information about remembering someone in this way.

If you would like more information about life after the death of a relative or friend, you can call the Macmillan Support Line free on 0800 808 0121.

Back to Coping with bereavement

Grief

Grief is a word for how we may feel after the death of someone close to us.

Symptoms of grief

You may experience a range of emotional and physical symptoms after your relative or friend has died.

Your feelings

People describe having many different feelings after someone close to them has died.

Prolonged grief

If you continue to be overwhelmed by your feelings of grief, it is important to get help and support.