Log in to Gingerbread

You need to be logged in to save pages.

Forgotten your password?

Not registered yet?

Our community membership is open to all single parents in England and Wales and gives you access to local and online support, news and events.

Register now

Coping when your mum or dad has died

A parent dying is one of the hardest things that can happen to a young person. It can be really hard to make sense of how you feel. 

You might feel sad, confused, scared, angry, guilty, relieved – or a mixture of things. Or you might feel numb and empty. These feelings are called grief. And there’s no right or wrong way to grieve: whatever you’re feeling is OK. 

Grief can affect you physically too. You might find it hard to sleep, not have much of an appetite, or have headaches or stomach aches, for example. 

We all react differently to someone dying. How you feel might be affected by the relationship you had with your parent, how they died or how your family sees death, for example. 

But it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. There are lots of places where you can get help and support if you need it. However you’re feeling, things can get better. This page suggests a few things that might help you and places where you can get more support.

It’s good to talk

Ask for help

It’s good to talk

Talking about how you’re feeling can be hard, but it can really help you feel better. You might feel like you want to just keep things to yourself, or that you can’t trust other people. While keeping your feelings to yourself might feel like the best thing to do, it can end up making those feelings worse. 

This doesn’t mean you have to talk about everything all the time, but when you feel you are ready to talk, talk to someone you trust. This could be:

  • Someone in your family
  • A good friend
  • A teacher that you get on well with
  • Somebody you know who has also lost someone
  • A counsellor – your school might have one, or you could ask your doctor about a referral

If you’re grieving, this is for you

Video with young people talking about grief (YoungMinds)

Ask for help

As well as talking about your feelings, it’s important to ask for help when you need it. You might need some time to yourself, something to take your mind off things, or maybe just a hug. 

Other people might be unsure of what to say or do because they don’t want to upset you, but this doesn’t mean they don’t care. If you feel like you need help, try telling people what you need. If it’s too hard to do this face-to-face, try sending a message or writing an email.

You’re not alone

Here are some places where you can get help from people who really understand. 

  • Child Bereavement UK can help you in lots of different ways, including apps, games, support services, and friendship groups.
  • Help 2 Make Sense has blogs and podcasts to help you come to terms with a death. Most of the advice here is from young people who have dealt with death themselves.
  • Hope Again is a place where you can learn from other young people about how they’ve coped with death. You can also get support from trained counsellors over the phone and by email. 
  • Grief Encounter offers advice through their website, helpline and chat service. They also have counselling, workshops and fun days out.
  • YoungMinds is for young people who are struggling with their mental health. They have very useful guide on managing grief and loss.
  • The Mix helps young people over the phone, through webchat and email. You can access a counsellor through them and use talk to them by text if you’re really hurting or feeling desperate.

Emergency help

If you’re really struggling, ask for help. Don’t wait.

You can call ChildLine on 0800 1111 or talk to them online. Or you can text Shout on 85258 to message with a trained volunteer. You’re not wasting anyone’s time and you will be taken seriously.

If you feel like you want to end your life, call 999. Don’t worry – this IS an emergency. You can also call HopeLine UK on 0800 068 4141 or text them on 07860039967, or call Samaritans free 24 hours a day on 116 123.

New Report