Prolonged grief

Some people continue to find life very difficult following bereavement. They are still overwhelmed by their feelings for months or years after their relative or friend has died. 

They may find it difficult or impossible to return to work or socialise with friends. Some people may not sleep well or even find it hard to get out of bed in the morning. They may stop washing and taking care of their appearance. They may also not eat properly. Some people may start to comfort eat or drink a lot of alcohol. Others may have suicidal thoughts.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. And there is no set period of time to grieve for. But if you continue to be overwhelmed by your feelings, it is important to get the right help and support. You should talk to your GP or another health or social care professional.

They can talk with you about how you are feeling and may suggest some extra support for you. This may include:

  • referring you to a bereavement support group
  • referring you to a bereavement counsellor, psychologist, or psychotherapist
  • prescribing you medication to help with the way you are feeling.

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 0808 808 00 00.

Back to Coping with bereavement


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

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.