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Wollongong City Council

Grief and Mourning

The death of a loved one is undoubtedly one of the most traumatic experiences we face in life.

Grief is very complicated and personal, and it can be confusing, overwhelming and confronting.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Many things will affect how you grieve, including your relationship to the person who died, the circumstances around their death, and perhaps your cultural or religious beliefs.

While there is no 'one size fits all' pattern for grief, these are some things to keep in mind when you're dealing with loss.

  • Grief is more than just sadness. It can include many different emotions, like anger, disbelief, anxiety and panic, or even relief and gratitude.
  • Grief has no time limit. There isn't a set time for when you should feel better. Your grief may change over time, or be something you deal with for the rest of your life. You should not put pressure on yourself to stop grieving at a particular time.
  • Ups and downs are normal. You may start to feel better, even 'normal', and then the loss hits you again all of a sudden. Sometimes this seems to happen for no reason. Other times, a significant date like a birthday or anniversary, or even a certain song can bring up strong feelings.
  • Be kind to yourself. This includes looking after your health. Try to get regular sleep, eat well and exercise or get outdoors.
  • Talk if you need to. Discuss how you're feeling with family, friends, workmates or other people around you if that helps. There are also many professionals who can provide advice, or just listen if you need to talk. See the list at the bottom of this page for some suggestions.
  • Pay tribute to your loved one. Having a focal point to acknowledge and feel connected to the person who has died can help with the grieving process. We can help you choose a memorial or burial option at one of our locations. This can give you a place to visit and reflect on your time together. However, there are many other ways to create a tribute, such as keeping a photo or treasured object that belonged to them close to you. You might also want to make a donation to a charity that was important to your loved one in their name.

Helping others with grief

If you're supporting someone who's dealing with grief, it can be hard to know the right thing to do. There's no simple answer, but often little things can make a difference.

Even if you feel unsure, it's important to reach out and let them know they have your support. Offer to listen if they want to talk. Many people will also appreciate practical help with things like shopping or preparing meals, but be careful that you don't push help onto someone if they're not comfortable with that. If in doubt, ask if they'd like help first.

It's also important that you let the person grieve in their own way. Try not to say things that minimise their grief, like "you'll get over it" or "it might be for the best".

The person you're supporting may express strong emotion, even anger. You should remember that anger from a grieving person should not be taken personally.

Helping children

See our Helping Children Deal with Loss page for some suggestions to support a child who's grieving.

Support services

If you're grieving and need support, or just want to talk to someone, these organisations may be able to help. These services are free, and contact can be confidential or anonymous.

Your family doctor may also be able to recommend other professional help.

Lifeline Call 131 114 or visit Lifeline's website
Beyond BlueCall 1300 224 636 or visit the Beyond Blue website
Kids Helpline Call 1800 551 800 or visit the Kids Helpline website
NSW Coroner's Court Counselling ServicesVisit the Coroner's Court website
Stillbirth Foundation AustraliaVisit the Stillbirth Foundation Australia website