Grief Statistics and Bereavement Figures 2023 – USA, UK and Global
Grief and Bereavement – the Statistics
Grief. It’s an often almost unbearable part of life that we’ll almost all encounter at some stage. Whether it’s the loss of a spouse, a friend, a child or a parent, bereavement is for many, one the most difficult things they’ll ever face.
We wanted to know how grief affects people and how many of us have lost certain loved ones. So we surveyed 2,000 people in February 2023 and looked at a whole host of other facts, figures and trends. We’ve compiled this here and present our round up of bereavement and grief statistics for 2023.
If you’re here for the bullet points and quick figures, this is what you need:
- As of 2023, there are over 2.8 million posts on Instagram with #grief hashtag
- Between 2.5 and 3 million people die in the USA every single year
- 86% of people over the age of 16 have experienced grief
- 6.7% of people in the UK have experienced the death of a spouse
- 6.5% have also experienced the death of a child under the age of 18
- Over a third have experienced the death of a friend
- 46% have experienced the death of a pet
- 45.5% have experienced the death of one or more parents
Demand for Grief Therapy in the USA
With death and loss a natural part of life that almost all of us will experience at some point, it will come as no surprise that many people find themselves in need of grief counseling services to support them through bereavement.
But where in the USA are people most likely to seek out the help?
We took a look at Google search habits to find out.
We used kwfinder.com to look at how many searches were made in Google USA between January 2018 and June 2022 (which is the most recent month of data available in the data set) for the following phrases:
- Grief counseling
- Grief therapy
- Bereavement counseling
- How to communicate with the dead
- Mediums near me
We worked on the assumption that these searches are likely to include people looking for help to process grief over the loss of a loved one.
Here’s what we found:
|Month||Searches in Google USA for “Grief counseling”||Grief therapy||Bereavement counseling||How to communicate with the dead||Mediums near me|
One of the interesting observations we made in the data is how, over the last 5 years or so, the gap between those seeking out grief counseling and the assistance of a medium is closing.
There were almost 3 times as many searches in January 2018 for “grief counseling” as there were for “mediums near me.” But by June 2022, this gap had closed considerably. This is depicted on the graph below.
Death, Grief and Bereavement in the USA
We also took a look at some of the numbers in the USA pertaining to death rates and grief.
- Typically, between 2.5 million and 3 million people die in the USA every year
- A 2017 bereavement survey found that 30% of people who lost a parent while growing up say they’ve never been ok with their loss
- The same study found that 57% said support from friends and family tapered off after around 3 months following the death of the parent
- While the overwhelming majority of Americans have experienced the loss of a friend or close relative, just 46% say they would know where to turn to find support in the community
These statistics demonstrate that, despite the fact that death is a part of life, less than half of Americans know where to go for help if they’re struggling to cope with their loss.
Grief in the Social Media Age
As of February 2023, there are over 2.8 million Instagram posts with the hashtag #grief.
Millions of people turn to social media to talk about their grief in 2023. Therapeutic for many, sharing posts about lost loved ones is commonplace. We’ve probably almost all seen it.
How Common is Experiencing the Death of a Loved one?
In February 2023, we put the following question to 2,009 people aged 16 or over in the UK:
- What loss, if any, have you experienced? (tick all that apply)
- I have experienced the death of a pet
- I have experienced the death of one or both of my parents
- I have experienced the death of at least one friend
- N/A – I have not experienced any loss
- I have experienced the death of a sibling(s)
- I have experienced the death of my significant other
- I have experienced the death of my spouse
- I experienced the death of my child/ren when they were under the age of 18
- I experienced the death of my child/ren when they were 18 years or older
- Other, please specify
We found that of those aged over 16, only 13.99% have never experienced any sort of loss. In other words, 86% of the population over 16 or over has experienced the death of a loved one.
Bereavement affects almost all of us.
Here’s what we found from that survey.
|Type of Loss Experienced||% of Those Over 16 Who Have Experienced it|
|The death of a pet||46.34%|
|The death of one or both of my parents||45.50%|
|The death of at least one friend||37.28%|
|N/A – I have not experienced any loss||13.99%|
|The death of a sibling(s)||11.80%|
|The death of my significant other||6.92%|
|The death of my spouse||6.72%|
|The death of my child/ren when they were under the age of 18||6.57%|
|The death of my child/ren when they were 18 years or older||3.33%|
It’s not surprising that so many of us experience grief and loss. After all, death is a natural part of life. But certain types of loss always seem more difficult to comprehend. Most of us, for example, expect to outlive our grandparents and even our parents. But the loss of parents when you yourself are particularly young is not always expected.
The Death of a Child – Statistics
Losing your children is another type of loss that we perhaps don’t expect. We typically assume, naturally, that we will pass before our children do.
But what our data showed is that the loss of a child is far less uncommon that you might expect.
In fact, more than 1 in 20 people in the UK has experienced the loss of a child under the age of 18. This will include stillbirths and sudden infant death right up to the loss of teenagers. This is a devastating loss to come to terms with for bereaved parents.
3.33% have experienced the loss of a son or daughter when they were over the age of 18 as well.
The Death of a Spouse – How Many People are Widowed?
6.72% of people polled have experienced the death of a spouse. Becoming widowed is something we perhaps associated with the later years of our lives. And while, unsurprisingly, we do see that this is more common in older 55s than any other age group,, young people are by no means exempt.
Here’s what we found when we delved into our respondents by age.
|Age Group||% Of People Who’ve Experienced the Death of a Spouse|
|16 – 24||5.42|
|25 – 34||6.47|
|35 – 44||3.80|
|45 – 54||4.09|
Surprisingly, those in the 16 to 34 age bracket are likelier to have lost a spouse than those in the 35 to 54 age bracket.
Amongst those aged 55 and over, almost 1 in 10 has experienced the loss of a spouse.
The Death of a Sibling – Statistics
Across all those over 16 years of age, 11.8% said they’d experienced the loss of a sibling. We always assume siblings to be relatively close in age (though this is of course not always the age). So when this occurs in younger age groups it can often be surprising and a particularly difficult bereavement.
Here’s how the loss of a sibling looks by age group:
|Age Group||% Of People Who’ve Experienced the Death of a Sibling|
|16 – 24||6.2|
|25 – 34||8.06|
|35 – 44||6.10|
|45 – 54||7.23|
In those aged 55 and over, just about 1 in 5 have experienced the death of a sibling.
The Death of Our Parents – Statistics
The loss of parents, though something most of us expect to experience in our lives, is a life changing and difficult bereavement.
But how many of us have experienced the loss of at least one parent? Here’s what the survey results told us by age:
|Age Group||% Of People Who’ve Experienced the Death of a Parent|
|16 – 24||15.5|
|25 – 34||20.9|
|35 – 44||26.27|
|45 – 54||41.19|
Unsurprisingly, but certainly still sadly, three quarters of those aged 55 and over have lost at least one parent.
What may come as more of a shock is that 1 in 6 of those aged 16 to 24 had also experienced the loss of at least one parent. This rises to:
- 1 in 5 of those age 25 – 34
- 1 in 4 of those aged 35 to 44
- 2 in 5 of those aged 45 to 54
The Loss of a Pet – Statistics
Many of us love our pets as we love our human family members. And the loss of a pet is, for many of us, our first experience of bereavement.
Grief experienced when we lose pets is as significant for many as with the loss of human loved ones. But how many of us have experienced the loss of a pet?
Well, this is the loss that more of us have experienced than any other. Just under half (46%) of people have experienced the death of a pet.
Again, this fluctuates by age:
|Age Group||% Of People Who’ve Experienced the Death of a Pet|
|16 – 24||33.72|
|25 – 34||34.03|
|35 – 44||35.44|
|45 – 54||48.11|
Around a third of those aged 16 to 44 have lost a pet, while almost half of those aged 45 to 54 have experienced the same. In those aged 55 and over, just under 60% have grieved a pet.
Bereavement in 2023
Our stats show that we’re all highly likely to experience a painful loss in our lifetime. Death is, of course, a certain part of life.
Thousands upon thousands will turn to the help of therapists and counselors to support them in overcoming their grief. And as we all see increased awareness of mental health problems and we encourage one another to share and talk, is it fair to expect that we’ll all learn to be more open about our grief? We’d hope so!
And if you’re struggling with grief of your own, there are some excellent resources here: