Grieving as a young adult

Experiencing the death of someone important to you is extremely painful and difficult. As a young adult, you may already be coping with a lot of stress in your life such as important exams or starting a new job. Whether a death is sudden or due to a long-term illness, it can be overwhelming trying to navigate your emotions around the events that took place. Your response to the death of a loved one is unique to you, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There are a mixture or emotions associated with grief, which can feel very intense and challenging.


You may experience feelings of regret, guilt and anger; these may be stronger if you felt certain choices were taken away from you. Maybe you were unable to visit or say goodbye, or you had decided not to do so. Its important to remember that nothing you said or did caused or could have changed what happened.

As a young adult you may feel resentful that your life has been disturbed by the death, this can cause guilt and anger which can be channeled at your family or friends. You may also feel required as a young adult to step into the role of the person who died, this could be due to your own expectations or those around you. Either way it can affect your own grieving and healing process. It is important to be aware of how your surrounding environment is affecting you and recognise when you need to step back and think about your own emotional well being.

What to expect

With all the different challenges you may face, it is normal to feel low, withdrawn and less interested in things you usually enjoy. Don’t feel that you must cope alone, there are many types of support you can access. Identifying someone you trust that you can share your feelings with is helpful, this may not necessarily be someone close to you. You can also seek support from school/college/university staff or counsellors or bereavement support services. The Grief Encounter helpline, grieftalk can be contacted from 9am-9pm Monday-Friday. The grieftalk free phone number is 0808 802 0111.

Symptoms of Grief

  • Crying, often when you least expect it
  • Physical symptoms such as aches, pains & headaches
  • Anxiety & stress
  • Frustration & anger, sometimes with the person that has died
  • Guilt
  • Feeling detached from friends & family
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and/or difficulty sleeping

Signs that you should seek outside help

  • Ongoing isolation from friends & family
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns that continue for several months
  • Lack of motivation, skipping classes or taking regular sick days
  • Worrying changes in behaviour
  • Disinterest in your appearance or personal hygiene that is unusual for you
  • Depression or unusual levels of anxiety
  • Thoughts of suicide or a fixation on death
  • Reckless sexual behavior and disinhibition
  • Escalating drug use
  • Feeling overwhelming by social, family or academic/work pressure
  • Unmanageable feelings of anger or guilt

The Grief Encounter helpline, grieftalk can be contacted from 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday. The grieftalk helpline number is 0808 802 0111, or you can chat online or even email us now, we are here to listen.