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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Grief information for teens & young adults

Mōhiohio pūkatokato mō ngā taiohi me rangatahi

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 being forced to give up something 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 do not 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 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 is 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 is a good idea to talk to someone experienced who can help, like your general practice team. 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 links at the bottom of this page have some helpful tips.

Phone and helplines

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

0800 What's Up?

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 0800 What's Up? website also has information about what grief is, how it affects you, feelings, how to cope and supporting a friend.


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, Tuesday to Friday and 4:30 pm to 10 pm, Saturday to Monday.

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

You will also find information about common reactions and getting through grief on the Youthline website.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Helping your teenager grieve

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2023.


See also:

Relationships in teens & young adults

Page reference: 53204

Review key: HIGYT-53204