You may well be coping with your own grief and also that of a parent or other close relative or friend. Here, we give advice for looking after both yourself and others.

Try to look after yourself

Loss of appetite is normal but try to eat even if you don’t feel like it. Even a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast is better than nothing at all.

Try to keep to some kind of routine

It can help to have some structure to your day, even if you don’t have to go out to work or have other responsibilities such as childcare. Try to do a little gentle exercise each day, even if it’s just a short walk to get some fresh air. The chances are you will have disturbed sleep, but keeping to a routine will help.

Try not to be anxious about how you are feeling

There’s no set way that you ‘should’ be feeling, so try to go with the flow and accept your emotional response. At times, your emotions will feel very intense and at others you may feel lacking in energy and not be interested in anything. Even if you have experienced a major bereavement before, this time may be different because you will have had a different relationship with the person who has died recently.

Try not to be upset or offended by other people's words

Sometimes people who mean well, might say or do the wrong thing. There are a lot of clichés that people use when someone has died. This is usually when they don’t know what to say but feel they should say something. Try to appreciate the effort that they have made to show they care.

Try not to feel rejected

You may hear your bereaved parent voicing thoughts such as: ‘I just want to be with him now, there’s nothing left for me.’ This may be hard to hear when you’re dealing with your own grief and you may feel upset or rejected. To help overcome this, focus on your loved one’s needs, and reassure them that they are still important to others. Immediate family members may wish to be more specific: ‘We all really miss Dad and we know it’s hardest for you, but we really love you and need you.’

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help

Everyday tasks will be difficult at first. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether you need a lift to the registrar, help cleaning the house or for someone to pop to the shops. Close friends and family will want to support you but might not know how. They might be relieved if you give them something specific they can do.

It’s OK to laugh

Losing a loved one will generate a lot of mixed emotions and memories. Don’t feel that they all have to be sad. It can be really comforting to share happy and funny memories of the person who died, even if you then share some tears as well. It’s OK to smile at other things, too – you’re not betraying the memory of the person who has died.

Remember that everyone grieves differently and at a different pace

Try not to be upset if another family member doesn’t seem to be as distressed as you. Or try not to feel irritated if you feel someone else is over-reacting to what has happened.

Only do things when you feel ready

Some things must be done within legal timeframes, such as registering the death and obtaining probate. But other things, such as moving photos and other important memorabilia from your loved one’s home, can wait. You can put these things away in a box until you feel ready to go through everything and decide what you want to keep. The same applies to sorting through their clothing and other possessions.

Keep talking to your loved one

Many people have conversations in their head with the person who has died. This can be a comfort when faced with making big decisions in the future. Some people silently tell the person who has died about their day – perhaps as they put the kettle on when they come home in the evening. Other people may do something similar if there is a grave that they visit regularly. Sometimes writing a letter to the deceased person can help to make sense of your feelings.

Financial help

In certain instances, you may be eligible to receive Bereavement Support Payment and help with funeral costs.

Related pages

The EPiC Resource Centre is kindly sponsored by Cleenol: working for a cleaner, safer, kinder world.