Managing your grief reactions

Grief is a normal reaction to any significant changes and losses we experience. Knowing the sorts of things to expect during grief can be helpful, as well as some ways to cope.

Grieve in a way that’s right for you
Take things a day at a time. Only do what’s essential. Grief takes the time it needs. Don't be hurried by others’ expectations. On the days when you wonder if you’ll get through this painful time, be reassured that you will, one step at a time.

Look after yourself
If there are others around you grieving the same loss, encourage them to do the same. Get some rest and sleep. Eat healthy food. Drink enough water. Keep up routines. Take some slow, deep breaths. Pace yourself. Take one day at a time, or even one hour at a time if you need to. You can’t rush grief and it can be very tiring. Make good choices. Do some simple exercise. Stay in touch regularly with friends, family and whānau and others who care about you. Use support when you need it. See a doctor if you’re unwell, extremely anxious, or can’t sleep.

Do what’s worked for you before in stressful times
Put those positive things into action again. Avoid those things that haven’t worked.

Talk to someone you trust
When you are ready, talk with someone you trust about what you are coping with.

  • A Victim Support Worker – you can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.
  • A trusted member of your family member or whānau, or a friend.
  • Someone who’s been through a similar situation.
  • A trusted cultural or faith leader.
  • Your doctor, a counsellor, or grief worker.
  • Call 1737 to speak with a counsellor - call or free text this number (24/7)
  • Contact Youthline - call 0800 376 633 or free text 234.
  • Call Lifeline - 0800 543 354.
  • For a directory of helplines and local mental health service contact details click here (Mental Health Foundation)

The Grief Centre offers services to support children, youth, adults, families, or whānau experiencing any form of significant loss. They also provide training, professional development, and staff sessions for professionals, community workers, and organisations. You can find their website here.

Find other helpful ways to let out your distress and tension
Writing thoughts down, safely hitting a cushion, crying, walking, or doing exercise, playing music, or creating something.

Keep up a daily routine
Even simple routines can help us feel more in control of things.

Keep connected with others
Regularly talk with, text, or message those you know. Spend time with those who care about you.

Accept support from others if it’ll reduce some stress
Practical help can make a difference. Reach out for help when you need it. You don’t need to do this alone.

Avoid making big plans or decisions
Let things settle a bit more and you can think more clearly.

Managing media interest
If what happened to you or a member of your family or whānau is in the media, limit the time you listen, watch, or read about it. See the helpful tips on our Managing Media Interest page.

Take notice
Despite your loss and grief take notice of things around you that you are grateful for,

Keep learning about grief
Find out what others in similar situations have found helpful.

If you are supporting grieving children, young people, relatives, or friends
Remember they will each also grieve in their own ways. Ask your Victim Support Worker for some tips.

Reach out for help
Contact your doctor if you are unwell or struggling with ongoing anxiety, depression, or sleep problems, or call Healthline 24/7 about any health concerns on 0800 611 116.

Seek some extra help if, after a few months, your grief is not easing up or if its effects are dominating your daily life and causing you and/or others concern. Sometimes grief can become complicated, and the pain of the loss is so constant and severe that it continues to be overwhelming and keeps you from resuming your life.

If it’s getting too much, see your doctor or talk with a counsellor, or psychologist. They can help you work through your reactions and the consequences your situation has had. You could also contact a cultural or faith elder you trust who can provide extra support at this time. Your Support Worker can help you to find and connect with the specialist help you need.

Helpful information sheets
Our information sheets Coping with Trauma, When you are Grieving and Dealing with flashbacks may help you to cope with your grief.

How can Victim Support help? 
We are here for you 24/7. Our Support Workers are available to support you personally, or as a family or whānau, for as long as you need us. You can call us 24/7 on 0800 842 846 to be connected with a Support Worker.

Our support is completely free and confidential, and available throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our Support Workers can support you with:

  • someone to listen, talk with, and support you to cope through trauma, loss, and grief
  • help to understand your rights and make informed choices
  • information and help to answer your questions
  • help to access local support services and counselling to suit your situation
  • practical support and assistance to deal with things like funeral and coronial processes
  • someone to assist and support you at court trials, hearings, and dealing with police and other government agencies
  • help to prepare Victim Impact Statements [HS1] and attend family group or restorative justice conferences
  • financial assistance for victims of serious crime.

We are committed to providing quality support to strengthen the mana and well-being of all those affected by crime, loss, and suicide to help them to safety, heal, and participate in the justice process.

If English is your second language
If you require support in your first language, Victim Support can use Ezispeak to connect you with an interpreter over the phone. Call us on 0800 842 846 and let us know. We will try to match you to a Support Worker who speaks your language.

If children or young people have been affected by what’s happened
See our information sheet for parents and caregivers about Supporting your child or young person after a crime or traumatic event. Don’t hesitate to get them some extra professional help if they are struggling to cope. Helpful places to go for that help are listed towards the back of this information sheet.


When you are Grieving
Dealing with flashbacks
Coping with traumatic grief