Someone you didn’t know

Grief can often take us by surprise. What can be particularly surprising is the way we react to the death of someone we didn’t know. 

Why we grieve people we don’t know

  • You feel like you knew them 

Even though you may not have met in person, when someone is a public-figure or their death is well documented in the press, it can feel like you knew them. If they were very active on social media they may have shared a lot of personal information which adds to the sense of really having known them. 

  • They are someone you truly admired

If the person who died is a celebrity, public figure or even friend of a friend, they might have been an inspiration to you. It’s natural to be upset when someone who was important to your life dies.

  • It reminds us of our own experiences

When someone we didn’t know dies, it can bring up memories of your own grief. Perhaps the person who died has a connection with someone you have lost, or reminds you of them. If they died in similar circumstances to someone in your life, it can be really painful to see this happen all over again. 

  • They remind us of ourselves

If the person who died was your age or shared other characteristics, their death might be really frightening and make us worry about our own death.

  • Their deaths challenge our view of the world 

Public figures feel like a part of the landscape that won’t change. The shock of their death can challenge our assumptions about the world. This can make us feel very vulnerable. If the person suffered a traumatic death, it can be difficult to process that tragic events take place.

  • You are affected by the way the news is covered

Media coverage and emotive conversations on social media can be really difficult to handle. This can be really painful if you’re already feeling vulnerable. 

Supporting yourself

Allow yourself to grieve

Give yourself permission to feel sad, for the person who has died and their loved ones, and also for what you have lost.

Talk to someone 

There will be others who are affected by this death in the same way as you. Look for places where people are sharing their feelings online. Friends and family can also help, but it’s worth thinking about whether they are going through anything similar themselves. Not everyone will understand the reasons for grieving someone you didn’t know.

Find ways to remember the person

Take time to remember the person. Try making a small memorial, looking at pictures, writing down some of your memories.You can also find more ways to remember someone who’s died in our guide. 

Take a break from the news

We often feel like staying up to date with sad events can make us feel better. But it’s important to recognise when the news is making you feel worse. 

Talk to us

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