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Living with a terminal illness and looking for support? Our Support Line team are here to help. 

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Talking about death

Talking about death can be difficult – even doctors and nurses, who deal with death often, can find it hard. But they’re willing to listen. If you don’t feel you can talk to friends or people you know, there are people you can call in confidence.

On this page:

If you’re supporting a friend who’s recently been bereaved, read our information on Supporting a bereaved friend or family member.

Talking to adults

When a family member or friend dies the adults around you may be busy and struggling with their own feelings of loss. This might make you feel like you can’t talk to them, or worried about making them more upset. You may feel awkward, or not know what to say.

If you were involved in caring for the person who died, perhaps you’re now expected to look after an adult struggling to cope with their own loss. This can be tough. But knowing that people are there for you can really help.

You could try to talk to another adult who is less involved – perhaps a teacher – about what you’re feeling. Alternatively, if you want to talk to someone in confidence, there are trained people at organisations such as Child Bereavement UK  . These organisations have helped many young people cope with difficult feelings in a safe, non-judgemental environment.

Talking to friends

Your first thought might be to turn to your friends for support. But some may feel they don’t know how to listen or talk about painful things, or they don’t know how to cope with changes in your mood or behaviour. It can help to tell them what you’d find most useful. 

Sometimes friends prefer to be out doing things and having fun when you just want someone to listen. Try to be patient. Think about which friends are better for going out with and which friends you can talk to more intimately. Give yourself time and only join in when you feel up to it – there’s no rush.

Finding the right person to talk to

Here are some people you might want to talk to if and when you feel ready:

  • A relative – a parent, an older sister or brother, an aunt or a grandparent.
  • A neighbour.
  • Someone else who knew the person who has died.
  • A teacher at your school, college or university.
  • A healthcare professional such as your GP, practice or specialist nurse.
  • A bereavement counsellor.
  • Your local church, mosque or faith group leader.
  • The person who organised the funeral or other memorial event.
  • Other teenagers who have been bereaved.
  • An older person who’s also been bereaved.
  • Social networks or internet support groups.
  • Someone trained from a charity or organisation dealing with bereavement or terminal illness, such as Cruse  , Samaritans   or Marie Curie.

Dealing with advice

People may try to help by giving advice, but not all of it will be welcome or right for you. It’s fine if you’d rather not follow their guidance – just do what feels best. If you’re worried by any advice you’re given, get a second opinion from an adult you trust.

Remember, there are always people out there who can help if you want them to.

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