Losing someone important to you is one of the hardest things anyone ever has to go through. But if you’re a teenager, or you’re going to be a teenager soon, it can be even harder to deal with.

 Image credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

A boy leaning against a tree with his eyes closed That's because your body and brain are already going through a whole heap of changes as they mature into adulthood. In your day-to-day life, hormonal changes can cause your emotions to flare up at any time, resulting in tears or angry outbursts. And when the intense feelings you have when you are grieving are piled on top of this, it can be very difficult to bear. 


There are things you can do that can help you start to feel better.


Talk about it

When someone you love dies, always remember you don't have to deal with it alone. Talking through your loss with someone else can help you reach a place where you feel you can cope. So don’t keep your feelings inside. Speak to someone you trust, whether it’s a friend, a relative, a teacher or a neighbour. You don’t have to share everything with them, just whatever you're comfortable with. If you can’t think of anyone you want to confide in, there are trained people at organisations such as Winston’s Wish, Child Bereavement UK and Hope Again who can help you cope without judging you or telling anybody else what you talk to them about. 


Get some rest

Grief is exhausting, but even if you're really tired you may find it difficult to sleep. This is because your mind can go into overdrive when you're alone in bed with nothing else to focus on. You may also find that when you do sleep, your dreams are more vivid or unpleasant than usual. There are some things you can do to help yourself sleep better. These include: 

  • Turning off screens. Not looking at your phone or iPad at least an hour before you plan to sleep can help your brain settle down.
  • Putting a few drops of a calming oil such as lavender on your pillow.
  • Leaving a lamp on. While having a totally dark room is generally better for sleep, when you're coming to terms with a loss having a low light on can feel comforting.
  • Not having caffeine near bed-time. Caffeine makes you feel more alert. It's found in drinks such as cola, tea, coffee and, of course, energy drinks. Some foods have caffeine in them too, especially chocolate. Try not to drink or eat anything with caffeine in it at least four hours before you go to bed. 

For more tips on getting a good night's sleep, check out NHS - sleep tips for teenagers. 

Image credit: Bonnie Kittle, Unsplash

A teenager holding an apple

Eat healthily

You may not feel like food at all, or you may just want a certain type of food. If you're struggling to eat, try having smaller meals more regularly rather than sitting down to big plates of food, which can be off-putting. If you’re tempted to live off fast food or sweets, remember that healthy food can actually lift your mood and give you more energy. Check out the NHS Eat Well website for lots of information on healthy diets for young people. 



Cut yourself some slack

Don't be too hard on yourself - you're going through one of the toughest things imaginable. If you feel like staying in your jammies for the entire day, fine. If you just cannot face going out right now, fine. If you do badly in a test, that's also - you guessed it - fine!  You don’t have to rush into anything. You may have lost someone you've known your entire life and it’s going to take a long time to come to terms with that loss. Remember that grief is a journey, not an event. Don't rush headlong back into your life because you think you should or because you think other people expect you to. You do you. 

 A neon sign reading: "You do you"

Don't feel bad about feeling good

It really is OK to be happy, to laugh and have fun, even if - right now - you can't imagine it will ever happen again. No one is expecting you to think about the person you've lost 100 per cent of the time. There will be times, even when you're feeling intense pain, that you find yourself laughing at something. Try not to feel guilty. It doesn't mean you've forgotten the person. Your grief and loss are just the same, but laughing helps you cope with your pain. 



For ideas of practical things you can do to help you cope with the pain of losing someone close, see our article Practical tips for coping.


Helpful links

"Try to focus on the good times." Tips from others who've been there - Cruse Bereavement Care

Young people talk about how they coped when a loved one died - Hope Again

Dealing with important days after someone's died - The Mix 

Download Lost, our leaflet for bereaved children and young people aged 11-18 



Get the bereavement app

Child Bereavement UK's app for young people


Child Bereavement UK has launched an app designed by young people for young people. 

On it, you'll find: 

  • Information about bereavement, grief and feelings
  • Stories and films created by young people who've lost loved ones
  • Links to search for local support organisations 

There's also a built-in notepad so you can write down whatever you're feeling. 

Download it free from the App Store. 

Download logo for app store