What is grief

What is grief? Young people share what grief is to them

Grief is the term used to describe the feelings you have after someone has died. Grief is different for everyone but experiencing grief for the first time as a child or young person can present even more challenges than experiencing grief as an adult. We asked young people with experience of grief ‘what is grief to you?’. The range of answers shows just how much grief can vary depending on your own personal life experience, circumstances and current emotions.

The age at which a child or young person experiences grief for the first time can really impact their years as children, teens and young adults. We often think of grief as sadness, devastation and something that will ‘get better’ with time. But the reality is, grief can include a whole range of feelings, it’s not straightforward and it doesn’t just go away.

The concepts of grief and death can be difficult for children to understand. So, first here is a video created by our bereavement support team to help explain ‘what is death and what is grief?’.

We asked the young people we currently support, our social media followers, and other people with experience of grief to tell us what grief means to them. Thank you to everyone who sent us their answers. Here’s what they said:

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“Grief is the love you have for the person who passed away living on.

I think it’s hard to say it like that sometimes. I think person I’ve definitely struggled to say it like that.

For me, grief hasn’t been a very linear experience. I don’t think is for a lot of people, it’s not just you go through one emotion to the next, you know. It comes in waves, it moves around.

Different things happen that trigger different feelings. And yeah, but I think it’s always it’s a really good way to frame it and to view it… that it is the love, and it’s still there, you know.

It might not feel that good in what emotion comes up, but I think to see it that way is, is really good.”

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“Grief is not linear. It changes and moves all the time.”

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“Grief is experiencing a traumatic event and feeling distressed by what has happened.”

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“Grief is my superpower.”

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“Grief is everlasting, but as time passes it does get easier.”

What is grief
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Eleanor and Zoe

“Grief is not always manageable. (And that’s ok!)”


“A part of me.”

“Catching you out when you least expect it.”

“A journey.”


“Sharing with the world the person you’ve lost.”


“Living your life to the fullest.”

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Grief is…


“Ever changing.”




“A lot.”

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Support for grieving young people

Our bereavement support workers are available to offer information, guidance and support, right away. Reach out on 08088 020 021 or use our live chat (click the blue ‘chat’ button on the bottom right of your screen) between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday. You can also email us on ask@winstonswish.org and we’ll get back to you within two working days.

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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