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What I've learned about grief

Chloe talks about the grieving process and how it's different for everyone


Written by Chloe Boland and posted in opinion


This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact editor@spunout.ie.


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Losing someone you love is really difficult, whether it is expected or random. Before losing my mother I had ideas in my head of what it would be like to lose her, but the reality is far from what I could ever have thought. I won’t lie, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through and continue to go through, but I have learned a lot from it.

Everyone experiences grief differently

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. In the first few weeks I was numb to everything and still trying to understand what had happened. I thought I was doing grief “wrong” because I wasn’t crying. I thought there was a better or a right way to do it. Grief is different for everyone. For some it happens straight away and for others it comes down the line. Some people cry, some people don’t, some people are angry, some people aren’t. The bottom line is there isn’t one way to grieve the loss of someone you loved. You have to be kind to yourself and let yourself feel what you feel. This is something I still struggle with and have to remind myself regularly.

Grief isn’t linear

I once thought grief was a few weeks, a few months etc. of constant sadness and then everything would be okay again. That’s not exactly how it goes. There will be good days and there will be bad days. Some days might feel like normal and other days everything hurts more. There isn’t one straight path that every grieving person takes. It will be up and down and that is okay.

You can still be happy

Just because you’ve lost someone doesn’t mean that you can’t be happy. For weeks I felt so guilty for feeling happy or for laughing. ‘How could I possibly be happy right now?’ I thought. But I think you cannot feel guilty for being happy. You have every right to be happy. This was another hard thing I had to learn and another thing I have to remind myself. Happiness is the light amidst the darkness of death and you should let yourself feel it. Losing my mother taught me that life is way too short and so I should let myself be happy, and do the things that bring me joy. Being happy doesn’t mean you don’t miss the person.

There is no way of preparing

I spent a lot of time thinking about what it would be like to lose my Mam before it actually happened, how I would feel, how I would cope etc. No amount of thinking or predicting could have “prepared” me. As I keep saying grief is different for everyone, and imagining what my situation might be like based off of others’ was pointless for me. You have to enjoy each day as it is, and even if it is hard try not to think too much about the future. There is no way of knowing what your situation will be like or how grief will affect you.

You are not alone

Grief can feel very lonely at times and it’s hard to remember the people who are there for you. Grief can be a difficult thing to talk about, even with family or friends who are going through the same loss as you. I found even just sitting together, watching a movie or talking about other things can help. The most important thing in my opinion is being together. What has helped me the most is spending time with family, connecting more with my friends and getting involved in different charities to help others. Connecting with other people and creating new memories is helping fill the gap left by the loss of my Mam. If you don’t have that level of support from friends or family there are supports available to you. Samaritans and Childline both have people you can talk to and who are there to listen.

Take your time

Try to be patient with yourself. The harsh truth is that losing someone isn’t a problem that goes away. The loss doesn’t just disappear. You have to learn to live again without this person and it’s really hard. I can’t lie and pretend it is easy because for me it is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced, but I’ve come to understand that I have to be patient with myself and allow myself the time I need to heal. I am still learning and still healing. I have bad days and bad weeks, but also good days and good weeks. It is not something that isn’t going away anytime soon but I have learned to be patient with myself and give myself the time I need. You will learn how to cope, how to fill the gap, how to live without this person, you just have to give it time.

Losing someone you love is devastating and there’s no point in trying to pretend otherwise. However, you don’t have to face that road alone - there are many people and support available to you. The important thing is to be kind to yourself, be patient and don’t let anyone tell you how you should or should not feel. There is no right or wrong in such a situation. You just have to take each day as it comes and allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel.

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Published August 13th2020
Last updated Sep­tem­ber 18th2020
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