Bereavement through conflict and war
Bereavement as a result of a conflict or war will be very traumatic and painful.
When someone dies in a war or conflict it can be shocking and incredibly painful, whether you were involved yourself, or lost a friend and relative to a conflict elsewhere. Bereavement and trauma affect people in different ways. The feelings can be very strong and frightening, especially if a death was sudden or violent, if a body was not recovered, or if many people died.
Multiple losses and delayed grief
When someone is bereaved during a war or conflict it is likely to be one of many losses. Many people close to you may have died. You may have lost your home and possessions, or had to move to another country.
Dealing with your grief may have had to wait. You may have had many other things to cope with, to try and keep yourself and your family safe. In an emergency putting your feelings to one side can help you to keep going. If it continues long afterwards you may need help to come to terms with your grief.
Bereavement resulting from a war or conflict will be traumatic. Feelings from a traumatic loss can be very scary and powerful. They can include:
- Feeling numb
- Haunting images and flashbacks
- Anger, guilt and fear
- Loss of meaning
Anxiety and difficult feelings
You don’t have to be directly affected by a war for it to be difficult. When war and conflict is constantly in the media it can remind you of previous bereavements, particularly those which were traumatic.
- We support bereaved military families after someone dies, however the death occurs. Find out about our support for the military
- Traumatic bereavement might be when someone dies in an accident, by suicide, through drugs and alcohol, or as a result of violence. Trauma can also happen after any sudden or unexpected death, or where you have witnessed someone suffering or in pain. Read our other resources on traumatic loss
- Feelings of anxiety can be difficult to deal with. Read our article on grief and anxiety. The BBC have published an article about coping with anxiety about the war in Ukraine, and much of the advice will also be relevant to those who are grieving.
Our network of branches also offer a variety of services.
Help for non-English speakers
We have factsheets to download in other languages and are working to expand this information.
If you need more help, and don’t speak English, we can arrange for support on our helpline through a service called LanguageLine. Find out more
If you are a refugee or asylum seeker in the UK there are some organisations which can help.