What does grief feel like?

There’s no ‘right’ way to grieve and we each react in our own way.

Grieving is natural and normal. It’s not an illness, although it can make you  feel ill. It won’t last forever, although there may be times when it seems like the pain will never end. There’s no ‘right’ way to grieve and we each react in our own way. But some of our clients have reported feeling the following emotions.

Common feelings after someone dies

Shock and numbness 

At first you might feel like you’re in shock. You might feel numb or carry on as if nothing has changed. This is because it can take a long time to process what has happened. You may also feel disorientated – as if you have lost your place in your world. It’s important to know all of these feelings are normal.


The death of someone close to us is the most devastating experience that will ever happen to us. It can be very painful. People describe it as being cut in two or losing a part of themselves. These feelings can be very frightening and upsetting. 


It’s normal to feel angry when someone dies. Death can seem cruel and unfair. Especially when you feel someone has died too young or if you had plans for the future together. You might feel angry at the person who died, angry at others, or even angry at yourself for things that you did or didn’t do while they were alive. 


Guilt is another common reaction to grief. You might feel directly or indirectly to blame for the person’s death. Or you might feel guilty if you had a difficult relationship with the person who has died. Try not to be hard on yourself, it’s very unlikely you could have done anything to prevent the death from happening. 


You may feel depressed after the death of someone close. It can feel like nothing matters.  You might even feel like you don’t want to go on living. If you start to feel you might act on suicidal feelings please talk to someone. You can contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or contact 999 in case of an emergency. Your GP can also let you know about mental health support in your local area.

Seeing and hearing the person 

People  sometimes think they can hear or see the person who has died. You may also find that you can’t stop thinking about the events leading up to the death. “Seeing” the person who has died and hearing their voice can happen because our brain is trying to process the death and accept that it’s final. It’s important to know this is normal.

Physical feelings

It is common to feel physically ill after someone dies – the pain of grief can be felt as a real pain. Every part of your health can be affected. Read more about the physical effects of grief.

When will I feel better?

People often ask us how long the grief will last. The truth is that healing comes slowly, but it does come. Nothing can replace the person who has died. But gradually most people find they are able to continue with life, and start to feel happy at times, while remembering those who have died. Read more about how long grief lasts.

Talk to us

We’re here to support you while you’re grieving. Find out the ways we can help.