Grief is a word for some of the feelings you may have after the death of someone close to you. Some people describe being overcome or frightened by their feelings. Others say they feel numb or cannot believe what has happened.

The thoughts and feelings you have will vary. Sometimes, they may be very intense and stop you doing things. At other times, they may be in the background and you can still do your day-to-day activities.

How you feel and react may depend on different things, such as:

  • the relationship you had with the person who died
  • if the death was expected
  • how they died
  • any previous experience of death you have had.

There is no right or wrong way to feel. Your feelings may change from day to day or even hour to hour. You may have the feelings soon after the person has died, and for some weeks or months afterwards. 

One day you may feel you are coping, but the next day you may be overcome by sadness or loneliness. It is quite normal to have ups and downs like this.

If you had a difficult relationship with the person who has died, you may not feel any of the emotions we describe here. Or you may be surprised at how strong your feelings are.

Back to Coping with bereavement

How grief can affect you

You may have many different 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.

Starting to move on

While life will change, most people find that they begin to adjust as time passes.

Prolonged grief

If you continue to find life difficult after a bereavement, it is important to get help and support.