Coping with grief after knife violence

Knife violence doesn't always result in death, but it is always a dangerous possibility. When the worst happens, losing someone is extremely difficult and the grief it causes can affect us all in different ways. Sudden, violent circumstances around a death can feel so much more tragic and hard to understand, making it difficult to carry on with life in any kind of normal way.

It is totally normal to experience deep sadness as an emotional response to losing someone. According to psychotherapist Jane Darougar, who works in schools and colleges with young people affected by violence, people might experience a range of feelings, including confusion, sleepiness, eating disorders and an inability to learn and socialise with friends as a response.

Watch a group of young people who lost a friend to a knife attack, as they discuss how to process this awful loss and deal with bereavement from the BBC Panorama special, Knives in the classroom.

Grief advice from Jane:

  • Remember bereavement by murder is abnormal. Do not be hard on yourself for your feelings - this should not have happened.
  • Make yourself aware of specialist services that help with these issues like Young Minds and Childline.
  • You may lose your motivation - but stick to your routine.
  • Speak to someone you trust and talk about how you feel.
  • Take care of yourself. Try to eat and stay hydrated even if you have no appetite, and consider home fitness if you feel you can’t go out. Try to rest.
  • Angry feelings are normal, but try not to push away people who might have your best interests at heart, such as family and very close friends.
  • Do not make any big life decisions, such as moving area or massively changing your routine, in the first two years of bereavement by murder.
  • Be mindful of what you watch on TV and social media and what people share with you. Think before looking at potentially upsetting images, etc. Once these are in your head it is very difficult to get them out.

Losing a friend or family member to knife crime is life-changing... you don't have carry on like nothing has happened. If you're experiencing grief, speak to an adult you trust for support.

BBC Panorama, Knives in the Classroom is available on BBC iPlayer.

Where to find support

Losing someone can be extremely difficult and grief can affect your mental health. If you are struggling, you can access simple steps to help you cope with your feelings at Child Bereavement UK. You can also find counselling and support at Young Minds.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised here, either as a witness or victim of crime, you can visit Victim Support for practical and emotional support in England and Wales, or Victim Support Scotland and Victim Support Northern Ireland.

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