How to Get Through the Loss of a Friend or Loved One

Discover ways to deal with death and loss.

Death is a part of life, but that doesn’t make it easy to deal with—especially when you’re dealing with the loss of someone special. Try the following suggestions for how to cope:

  • Talk about the one you lost as you feel ready.
    • Talk about the emotions you are experiencing, the changes in your world since the death, and memories you have of the loved one.
  • Identify and connect with the natural supports in your life—people, places, activities.
  • Re-establish helpful routines.  
  • Create a memory box or scrapbook of pictures to remind you of your loved one.
  • Keep a journal. Write a letter, song, or poem to your loved one or simply put your thoughts and emotions in words or art. Consider some of these prompts:
    • What did the person mean to you?
    • What did you learn from him or her?
    • What are you learning about yourself as you grieve?
    • Who has been there for you as you grieve? Is it who you expected?
  • Create a memorial or do something to honor or remember your loved one or friend in a meaningful way. Possible ideas include:
    • Organize a community walk to support a charity.
    • Plant a tree/flower.
    • Give back to the community in an area that your loved one was passionate about. For example, if your loved one was a pet lover, hold a shelter supply drive.
    • Transform the loved one’s clothing into a quilt, pillow, or bag.
    • Create and decorate a small “boat”, place a votive candle on the boat, and sail them in a body of water to signify closure and moving forward.
    • Write letters, messages, or memories of the loved one on a balloon and release them.
  • Talk to a professional. Speak to a school counselor, social worker, or psychologist or private outside professional if you experience suicidal thoughts, feel numb, and disconnected consistently for longer than a week or two, or are unable to perform your daily activities

About Emotions:

  • Know that a variety of emotions, including anger, guilt, sadness, fear, and loneliness are normal. The emotions may ebb and flow in intensity and change with time. Holidays and anniversaries may be more difficult, so take extra care around these times.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. Ignoring painful or negative feelings may prolong the grief process and can lead to even more intense negative emotions or behaviors. Talk with someone or find an activity (such as journaling or artwork) where you are comfortable having an honest sharing of what you are experiencing. Often just the process of sharing and identifying your feelings can lessen their intensity or duration.
  • Don’t judge the emotions you are experiencing. There are no “right” or “wrong” emotions or set timeframe for your grief. So, yell if you feel the need, cry or don’t cry, laugh, and find moments of joy without guilt.


Note: If you are in crisis, text NEEDHELP to 85511, call 1-800-273-TALK, or dial 911. You’re worth it! 



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