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Coping with grief

2-minute read

Healing happens over time. You may always carry some sadness and miss a person once they are gone, but the painful, intense feelings should gradually subside. It eventually becomes easier to deal with life.

Allow yourself to grieve

Exploring and expressing emotions can be a part of the healing process. Listening to music or writing can help. Time spent alone can allow you to connect with your emotions.

Stay connected

It’s also important to spend time with supportive people. Accept offers of help, talk about your loved one, or simply spend time with others.

Create positive memories

Honour the life of the person who has died. Collect photos or keepsakes, write a journal, or share stories and rituals with others. These can all help to create meaning after loss.

Look after your health

Get some regular exercise, eat healthy food and make sure you have enough sleep. Avoid recreational drugs and keep alcohol use to a sensible level.

Surviving anniversaries

Birthdays, anniversaries or holidays can trigger intense feelings of grief. It may help to mark these occasions with a simple ceremony like lighting a candle, playing music or gathering with family.

Supporting someone through grief

Initiate contact

Get in touch and be available to spend time together. Respect that your friend may need to cry, hug, talk, be silent or be alone.


It can be difficult to know what to say, particularly if you have not experienced grief before. There may be no words that can really help, but listening can be a great support. Don’t be afraid to talk about the person who has died – the person you are supporting may want to hear their name. Try to avoid clichés or giving advice.

Do something together

Spend some time doing ordinary and positive things like watching a movie, going for a walk or having a meal together.

Practical help

Cooking meals or looking after children can be a great gift to people dealing with grief.

Be aware

Grief may last for a long time. Birthdays and anniversaries may be difficult for a bereaved person, so calling them on that day can let them know you haven’t forgotten.

For more help and information

If you need someone to talk to, or want to find out more, these organisations can help you:

  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) - call 13 11 14 or chat online
  • beyondblue (24/7 support and advice) - call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
  • Kids Helpline (ages 5-25) - call 1800 55 1800

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: February 2018

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