how to
cope with grief

If you are struggling to cope with grief and you are looking for a support group, someone to chat to on the phone or help with depression, check out our useful links page.



There are no set rules in coping with grief, it is a healthy and natural reaction to a major loss and is experienced differently by everyone. For a person who has lost their spouse or best friend, or the parent who loses their child, there is no way around grief. It is a difficult process, it is highly complex and personal and takes time. It can be deeply isolating, and while family and friends may try to help, it is impossible for them to fully understand what you are going through so try to be patient with those around you.

Although grief is important and eventually leads to emotional healing, it can be a prolonged and intensely painful experience. We offer our sincerest condolences and wish you well in your recovery.

Grief is different for everyone

The response to grief is highly individual, some individuals hide their grief.  Not everyone mourning a death experiences depression, anger, guilt, fear or deep sadness. Behavioural, social, and physical responses, attempts at coping, and beliefs about death and mourning among people are so varied and could be influenced by culture, relationships and even gender. The result is that there is even more diversity accepted as normal mourning and grief.

Grief or depression

When one has been experiencing grief for an extended time, it is normal to question whether one is dealing with grief or depression. Grief and depression overlap, depression is an integral part of grief.  Grief is a healthy and natural reaction to a major loss.  Depression associated with bereavement is normal, provided it does not go on too long.

The five stages of grief

The 5 stages of grief is a model originally designed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross to describe the process a patient goes through when informed of their terminal prognosis.

These days the ‘grief-cycle’ is used to help people come to terms with many different emotional traumas, including grief experienced on the death of a loved one, relationship break-ups, etc. The grief model is a way of explaining how and why time heals, or how life goes on. When we know more about what is happening, then, dealing with it can be a little easier.

Grief survival tips

Our grief survival tips might help you get through the difficult emotional process of grief. We offer some extremely practical tips that many have found helpful on their road to acceptance and recovery.

Saying goodbye

In many cases family members and friends do not have the opportunity to say goodbye to the loved one who died. Fatal car accidents, heart attacks, murders, etc. can be the cause of shock, anxiety and deeply felt grief. Even when a death occurs at the end of a long illness, if we were not by their side at the time of death, all the pain is maximized by the thought of not having been with the person at the end. We offer some suggestions that have been helpful in situations where there was no time to say good-bye.

How to help a grieving friend

You cannot take someone’s grief away, but you can be there for them. Though we all handle grief differently, people who are grieving often have a need to share their thoughts and feelings.

Help a child cope with death

Though grieving is complex, it is not beyond the skills of a sensitive adult to help a child through it. The guidelines are fairly simple. Information in this section is supplied by Ilze Alberts, an Educational Psychologist and includes insights and advice on how to explain, and help children of different ages, cope with death.

Kind gestures and gift ideas

“I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” William Penn

Sometimes it’s the smallest things that we do for others that make the biggest difference. This is not about giving an expensive gift, it’s about showing someone you’re thinking of them and that you care.

Protect your loved ones

Get your own
affairs in order
Before it is too late!

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, all come from earth, and to earth all return.

Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust,
all come from earth,
and to earth all return.