The grief process

Understand the grief process and what you may experience during this difficult time.

Download fact sheet

A woman carrying her child in the foreground looking at the view in the background.

Grief is the natural response to loss

Each person's experience to loss is unique however there are some common responses.

Losing a family member at work can be sudden and traumatic and it can feel different to others losses you might have suffered.

Reactions you may experience

After the loss of a family member, you may experience a variety of physical and emotional responses. These can include:

  • strong emotions such as feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear, anger, disbelief, relief and numbness
  • brain fog - a struggle to concentrate or feel as though we are forgetting things
  • physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, muscle aches, tension, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping

These are normal responses to a very traumatic event in your life.

Focus on looking after yourself as much as possible. This may be a challenge with your normal responsibilities, such as childcare or work.

Caring for children

Like adults, children are all different and deal with grief in varying ways. Their reactions and means of coping will depend on their age, maturity and individual personalities.

Here are some suggestions for encouraging children to express their feelings and grieve in a healthy manner:

  • talk about the death in a simple but honest way
  • allow them to ask questions if they want to know more
  • don't be afraid to talk about your family member
  • ask the children how they are coping with the loss
  • give them opportunities to talk about their feelings
  • help them to remember their family member in a positive way
  • make a photo album or scrap book of memories with them
  • arrange time to see a professional counsellor

Try to keep some normality in their routine. Initially, they may need some time off school and other activities, but a return to their normal social supports will generally be good for them. You can speak to their school counsellor or teacher to ask them to provide extra support or keep an eye on them.

Kids, teens and young people that need help can speak to someone by calling the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

When to seek immediate help

Losing someone you love is very difficult and the sadness and grief that you feel might never go away entirely. However, if the pain of your loss is constant and means that you can't resume your life, for example go back to work or care for your family then you might need to talk to a professional.

If after 6 months you are:

  • feeling intense pain and longing for your family member
  • having intrusive thoughts or images of your family member
  • feeling like you have lost purpose or motivation
  • feeling numb or disconnected for more than a few weeks
  • wishing you had died with your family member
  • having difficulties trusting friends or families
  • unable to perform your normal daily activities

Then you should talk to a counsellor or psychologist. The best way to get help is to speak to your General Practitioner.

Find support with Ask Izzy

Support services you can use any time you need extra support including food parcels, housing help, financial aid, mental wellness, specialty health assistance and counselling.

Access Ask Izzy