Finding bereavement support
This guide aims to help you find out about national and local organisations and services offering bereavement support. There is also advice on how to talk to someone who is bereaved.
Grief, bereavement and mourning
Grief is a natural response when someone dies. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and each person’s grief is unique to them and to each lost relationship.
Bereavement is the period after someone has died, during which grief is experienced and mourning occurs.
Mourning is the process by which people adapt to a loss. Mourning is influenced by cultural and societal customs and rituals and so can be very different for different people.
Coping with grief and bereavement
This guide provides information on finding bereavement services, along with advice on how to support someone who has been bereaved.
The level of bereavement care and its nature vary depending on the needs of the person who is bereaved and their previous experience of grief and loss. Many people will use existing means of social support, such as friends or relatives. Others may need:
- Information about reactions to bereavement or practical advice;
- Longer term bereavement support;
- Bereavement counselling;
- Practical information.
Someone to talk to
While some people are comfortable talking to friends and family about their loss and bereavement, others can find it helpful to talk to a professional counsellor or a psychotherapist.
Your GP may be able to help with referrals to local bereavement counselling services and tell you about other support services available in your area.
Many companies run an Employee Assistance Programme which entitles employees to a set number of free counselling sessions. Ask your manager or Human Resources team for information.
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has information about how to find registered psychotherapists and counsellors in your area: https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/how-to-find-a-therapist/. Costs will vary, and many therapists have their own websites explaining how they work and what to expect from therapy.
Other sources of support
Your local hospice
If your family member or friend died under the care of a hospice, then do contact the hospice to ask about their bereavement support services. Some hospices also provide bereavement support services to the wider community which means that bereaved people do not have to used the hospice previously to access this support. Use our online directory to find hospices in the UK: https://www.hospiceuk.org/about-hospice-care/find-a-hospice.
Please be aware that COVID-19 may temporarily affect the level of service that hospices can offer.
Cruse Bereavement Care
Cruse Bereavement Care is a national charity for bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Cruse Bereavement Care offers face-to-face, telephone, email and website support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies.
For more information visit the website at: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help Information about the national helpline is available at: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/helpline.
There is also information about the network of local Cruse Bereavement Care branches: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/local-services and a dedicated website, called Hope Again, for children and young people: http://hopeagain.org.uk/.
Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland
Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland provides a range of support, including a national helpline and face to face support for people in Scotland. Visit the website at: http://www.crusescotland.org.uk/support.html
Marie Curie Telephone Bereavement Support
Marie Curie Telephone Bereavement Support is a free national telephone listening support service for people bereaved due to terminal illness. Call the Marie Curie Support Line on 0800 090 2309 to find out more about this service. Lines are open 8am-6pm Monday to Friday and 11am-5pm on Saturday. Visit the Marie Curie website for more information: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/support/telephone-bereavement-support
The Samaritans offers a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you. The service is available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Find out more at: https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us.
Sue Ryder Online Community
Sue Ryder’s Online Community offers a place to share experiences, ask questions and chat. Find out more from this page of Sue Ryder’s website: https://www.sueryder.org/how-we-can-help.
The Good Grief Trust
The Good Grief Trust is a national charity. Its website includes a directory of bereavement support services across the UK. The website address is: https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/.
WAY Widowed and Young
WAY is a national charity that offers a peer-to-peer support network for anyone who's lost a partner before their 51st birthday. Find out more at: https://www.widowedandyoung.org.uk/
Support for bereaved children and young people
Childhood Bereavement Network
The Childhood Bereavement Network has an online directory of services supporting bereaved children. There are also tips for parents and carers on supporting bereaved children. Visit the website at: http://www.childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk/.
Winston’s Wish is a national charity supporting bereaved children and their families. They offer a national helpline, along with information for parents, carers and professionals on supporting a bereaved child. For more information, visit the website at: https://www.winstonswish.org/.
It can be hard to know how to talk to someone who has just been bereaved. Our leaflet called ‘Supporting bereavement’
has practical advice on how to support people.
Dying Matters aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life. Dying Matters offers a range of leaflets which are designed to help everyone, whatever their situation, begin conversations about end of life issues.
They present useful information in a clear and easy to read manner on subjects including making plans, writing wills, bereavement, talking to children about death and avoiding misconceptions about dying. All the leaflets are freely available to download and print from the website.