Loss, Grief and Bereavement


Grief is the natural reaction to a loss – when someone close to you dies or you experience another loss that is significant to you, like a relationship breakdown or losing a job. ‘Bereavement’ is the experience of having someone important to you die, which includes strong feelings of loss and grief.  

Every person’s experience of grief and bereavement is unique. Even members of the same family can feel and react to grief in very different ways. While sadness is common, grief can involve a whole range of emotions, like anger or relief, behaviours like talking to your loved one or throwing things out, and physical effects like exhaustion or headaches.  

Whatever you are feeling is normal and natural given the loss you have experienced.  

Be patient and don’t pressure yourself or be concerned if others think you should be coping differently to how you are. There’s no defined period that grief lasts, and no right or wrong way to grieve. 

Grief is not something that needs to be ‘fixed’, but it can cause strong emotional and physical reactions. It can be helpful to recognise common reactions and find strategies that help you and your family in dealing with grief and coping with daily life.  

If you have a child who’s grieving they will look to you for how to cope and may need your help managing their grief too. Read our advice for managing your child’s grief, whether they have lost a parent or sibling.


More advice/support 

Self-care and self-compassion are key to coping during your bereavement. See our tips for taking care of yourself.  

If you feel you are not coping well, talk to an oncology social worker, psychologist or other health professional in your partner’s/child’s treatment team, or call a CanTeen counsellor for support: 1800 835 932 
Useful sites/resources 

CanTeen counsellors offer bereavement support by phone, email or online: 1800 226 833 or support@canteen.org.au 

GriefLine  is a dedicated loss and grief national telephone and online counselling service: 1300 845 745 

For a full list of Parenting through Cancer resources click here
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