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HealthInfo Canterbury

Grief information for teens & young adults

Mum comforting teen Grief is the feeling of sadness and pain you have when you lose someone or something that is important to you. It might be the loss of someone you love, the death of a pet, the end of an important relationship or friendship, your parents' divorce or perhaps being forced to give up something that you love. You might even grieve about leaving school or university.

Grief is a natural response to loss. People experience grief in different ways. The feelings may include intense sadness, fear, anger or guilt. Sometimes grief can affect you physically, for example making sleep difficult or affecting your appetite. These are all normal responses to loss.

Everyone feels grief at some time in their life and everyone grieves differently, and at their own pace

Sometimes when you are grieving you might be tempted to use other things to help you feel better, like alcohol, drugs, food, or sex. These things might help to numb you and take away the pain for a while, but they don't really help you work through your grief. They can also become problems if you keep using them to manage difficult feelings.

While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are some healthy ways to help you cope with your pain and to come to terms with your loss. The websites below have lots of information and advice about how you can look after yourself while you are grieving. Getting information helps, but it's also a good idea to talk to someone you trust.

If you think your grief is overwhelming, lasting too long, or you feel stuck, it's a good idea to talk to someone experienced who can help, like your GP. If you find it easier to talk to someone anonymously, try one of the helplines listed below.

Helping someone with grief

If you have a friend who is grieving, it can be hard knowing how to help them. You might feel unsure about what to say, or afraid of saying the wrong thing. This page on Supporting others has some helpful tips.

Phone and helplines

If your grief, or a friend's grief, is worrying you, it's a good idea to talk to someone you trust. But you may find it easier to talk to someone anonymously first. If that's the case, try one of these helplines for advice and support:

0800 What's Up? – Grief and loss

Freephone 0800‑942‑8787 to speak a counsellor for free, or chat online (Monday to Friday, 12 noon to 11 pm, weekends 3 pm to 11 pm).

The website also has information about what grief is, how it affects you, feelings, how to cope, and supporting a friend.

Youthline – Grief and loss

Freephone 0800‑376-633 (any time) or free txt 234 to speak to a counsellor.

You can also chat online using the webchat between 10 am and 10 pm, 7 days a week.

Email any time. Counsellors aim to respond to emails within 24 hours.

On the web page you'll also find information about common reactions and getting through grief.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Helping your teenager grieve

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2021.


See also:

Reading in Mind book scheme

Relationships in teens & young adults

Page reference: 53204

Review key: HIGYT-53204