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"Grief is the price we pay for love."Queen Elizabeth II

Grieving can be painful because losing someone important to you can be very distressing and can come with some powerful emotions. But grief itself is not an illness. It cannot be fixed, or cured, or made to go away.

Over time the grief and pain you feel will usually become less strong. Most people find that they can adapt to a life without the person who has died. But there is no timescale for how long this will take because it is different for everyone.

When you are grieving it is very important to be kind to yourself – and do what feels right for you. You may feel that the experience of grief changes you – but most people find that, in time, they are able to enjoy life again. Always remember, that it's normal to grieve and to find that there's a time when you do not think so often about the person who has died.

You cannot tell how you will feel when someone dies. This is true even when you have known for a while that they are going to die.

In the first minutes and hours, you may have many different feelings and emotions, and this is normal. There's no right or wrong way to feel or behave at a time like this. You may go into shock or feel numb. You may feel disbelief and think that what's happened is not real. You may feel relief at first if the person had been in pain or if caring for them had become difficult. You might even try to carry on as though nothing has happened. Or you may feel angry or in despair.

Grief is not just one feeling. It's often many emotions that follow on from one another but not in any order.

You may feel:

  • shocked or numb

  • sad

  • anxious or agitated

  • exhausted

  • relieved

  • guilty

  • angry

  • calm

  • lacking in purpose

  • resentful.

You may not feel some of these things. Or your grief could mean you feel something else that is not on this list.

You may find that your mood changes quickly, or that you feel very differently in different situations and at different times. People who have been bereaved often say they feel 'up and down', or 'all over the place', or that they have a 'roller coaster' or emotions.

People sometimes talk about stages of grief, or the five stages of grief. While this can be a useful way of understanding the different feelings and reactions you may have over time, everyone's experience of grief is different.

There are no set stages to grief and there's no timescale, or set order, to how you feel. You may not feel all of the stages that people talk about – or you may have completely different feelings.

Often people ask how long will their grief last. But no one can answer this for you because it is different for everyone and different each time we experience a bereavement.

Whatever you are feeling, it's important to try to be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to process your feelings of grief.

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