Understanding and Expressing Grief


What is grief?

Bereavement is something that most of us will experience at some time in our lives.

Grief can impact us all in different ways; emotionally, physically, the way we think, what we believe in and how we relate to others.

It can be hard to manage, not only your own, but a loved one’s feelings.

Grief can evoke a powerful range of often confusing and conflicting emotions.

It is, however, a normal and natural response to death and most people who experience it learn to live with the feelings and reactions bereavement has brought. But some, who experience more complicated grief, may need professional support.


Just ‘B’ is here to support a wide range of bereavement needs and is here to listen. This may be shortly after a death or years later.

How to deal with the grieving process

While grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain and come to terms with your grief.

Acknowledge your pain.

  1. Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
  2. Understand that your grieving process will be unique to YOU.
  3. Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
  4. Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically. Take time for self care.
  5. Recognise the difference between grief and depression.

‘Stages’ of grief

People often talk about the stages of grief – but this suggests a neat progression. Perhaps it is more helpful to think of the grieving process as a roller coaster – with ups and downs, highs and lows. The journey tends to be rougher in the beginning with deeper and longer lows.

As time goes on, the difficult periods should become less intense and shorter, but it does take time to work through.

Even years after a bereavement, we may still experience a strong sense of grief – particularly at times of anniversaries, or milestone events such as a wedding or birth of a child.

Ways to support yourself through grief

Seek out support from others

The pain of grief can make you want to withdraw from others and retreat into your shell. But having the face-to-face support of other people can be vital to healing.

Even if you’re not comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving.

While sharing your loss can make the burden of grief easier to carry, that doesn’t mean that every time you interact with friends and family, you need to talk about your loss. Comfort can also come from just being around others who care about you. The key is not to isolate yourself.

Turn to friends and family members.

Now is the time to seek comfort in the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient.

Rather than avoiding them, draw friends and loved ones close, spend time together face to face, and accept the assistance that’s offered.

Often, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need—whether it’s a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, or just someone to go out with for a walk, or a coffee.

Accept that many people feel awkward when trying to comfort someone who’s grieving.

Grief can be a confusing, sometimes frightening emotion for many people, especially if they haven’t experienced a similar loss themselves.

They may feel unsure about how to comfort you and end up saying or doing the ‘wrong’ things. But don’t use that as an excuse to avoid social contact. If a friend or loved one reaches out to you, it’s because they care.

Little blonde girls holding happy and sad face masks symbolizing changing emotions

Find creative ways to express your feelings

if you’re not able to talk about your loss with others, it can help to write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal, for example.

Or you could release your emotions by making a scrapbook, using art materials, or finding comfort in other people’s writing.

Try to maintain your hobbies and interests.

There’s comfort in routine and getting back to the activities that bring you joy and connect you with others.

Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. 

Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment.

It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh and to find moments of joy.

Join a support group. Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help.

Social media

While social media can be useful in letting others know about your loss and reaching out for support, be aware that it can also attract internet ‘trolls’ who may post inappropriate, insensitive or even abusive messages.

You can protect yourself from this additional pain at this time, by limiting your use to closed groups rather than public posts that can be shared and commented on by anyone.

Taking care of yourself as you grieve

When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves.

Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.

Look after your physical health.

The mind and body are connected. When you feel healthy physically, you’ll be better able to cope emotionally.

Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and getting some regular exercise.

Avoid using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.

Plan ahead for grief “triggers.”

Anniversaries, holidays, and important milestones can reawaken painful memories and feelings.

Be prepared and know that it’s completely normal.  You can plan ahead by making sure that you’re not alone, for example, or by marking your loss in a creative way.

Seeking professional support

If your feelings of grief are overwhelming, affecting your day to day living, you can seek professional help. Talk to your GP about options in your area..

Just ’B’

Our Just ‘B’ emotional wellbeing and bereavement support services are here to support children, young people and adults across North Yorkshire, though a helpline, one to one support and counselling.

You can find out more at www.justb.org.uk