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.

Traumatic 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:

  • Disbelief
  • Feeling numb
  • Haunting images and flashbacks
  • Anger, guilt and fear
  • Loss of meaning

Read more about traumatic loss and what can help

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.

Getting help

Cruse supports people within England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is lots of information on this website and we also have a free telephone helpline and webchat.

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.

The Red Cross 
Refugee Council