Three teenage girls reading their exam results - how can results day impact grieving young people

How can exam results day impact grieving young people?

When you are grieving, any milestone or significant life event, such as exam results day, can trigger a wave of grief and emotion. For bereaved young people, A Level or GCSE results day can be a reminder that their special person isn’t there to share the day with. They may feel lots of different emotions, whether they are happy or disappointed with their exam results.

Here are some different ways exam results day can impact grieving young people and how you can help them.

How might a grieving young person feel on exam results day?

1. Sad that their important person isn’t there

Those who are happy with their results may want to celebrate but the person who has died isn’t there to share that special moment with. It could be a family member who isn’t there to tell you how proud they are. A classmate who should be celebrating their results too isn’t there. Or maybe results day is a reminder that your sibling won’t ever reach this milestone.

2. Guilty for celebrating their exam results

The grieving young person might feel guilty that they are celebrating or moving on to the next stage of their life without them.

4. Worried they have let people down

Young people who don’t get the exam results they hoped for may feel like they have let people down, including the person who has died. They may feel vulnerable and disappointed and wish that the person who has died could comfort and help them.

4. Lonely and that they have no support

If the person who has died is a parent or carer, then it might also make it more difficult to navigate the practicalities of clearing, appeals and future placements without them.

Young people often feel lonely and isolated after a death, and it can be difficult for them to be kind to themselves. Encourage them to talk to someone – a family member or someone at school or college – who can help make a practical plan to see a way forward.

How can grief impact your revision and exams?

Studying for exams while you are grieving is difficult and anyone who has done it deserves huge acknowledgement and respect. Grief can affect your concentration, meaning you drift off or can’t take things in, which makes revision incredibly hard.

Young people may also have had to cope with other massive changes, like moving house, taking on more responsibilities or looking after other siblings. This can affect the time they have to concentrate on schoolwork and revising for exams.

If you know someone who has revised and taken exams while they are grieving, it doesn’t matter how they have done, buy them a cake, send them a text, post them a letter, and let them know that you are thinking of them and are proud of them for doing something so difficult.

Ways to help a grieving young person on results day

  • Remind them that it is ok to be sad or to think or talk about the person who has died on results day
  • Remind them that having fun, celebrating or feeling happy isn’t a sign that they miss that person any less
  • Make some time to remember the person who has died so that it feels like they have been part of this milestone day
  • Suggest the young person writes a letter to the person who has died to tell them how they did and what’s happening. Writing can really help with grief and expressing feelings
  • Plan for results day to help them feel prepared to cope with the day
  • If they are likely to find the day upsetting, you could plan to be with certain people or visit a special place to help them feel supported
  • Let them know you are thinking of them and proud of them (no matter what their results are)
  • Encourage them to talk to someone who can help them plan the next step

Where to get support

If you are a bereaved young person (aged 0-25) or you are supporting a child or young person who is struggling with their grief, please call our Freephone Helpline team on 08088 020 021 or email We can provide advice, support and resources.

If you need urgent support, the Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger is available 24/7 for free, confidential support in a crisis. Text WW to 85258.

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