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Most people are able to cope with the support of family and friends as they grieve for the loss of a loved one. 

However, if you or a relative or friend feel in need of support outside your immediate network, there are trained volunteers working with hospices, charities and other local services who can help you to explore and understand why you are feeling as you do. You may also find trained professionals who provide specialist palliative care and bereavement services helpful.

Where to turn to for support during the grieving process

  • Local and national charities: some provide support by telephone, email and internet forums; some offer face-to-face support and others have local or regional group meetings or a combination of these.
  • Local groups: some funeral directors, churches and other faith organisations provide bereavement home visits or small group support. Ask your local funeral director or your library for information.
  • Local hospices: although many hospices provide bereavement support, this may be restricted to the families of people the hospice has cared for. You can search for the website of your nearest hospice’s website using the link on the front page of Hospice UK to find out what support your local hospice offers.
  • Your GP: especially if you are feeling unwell as well as sad. Some physical illnesses can also affect your mood.
  • Private counselling: if you can afford this or have private health insurance that covers you for private counselling, look on the website of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) to find a counsellor in your area and other information about different types of counselling and what is involved. Some counsellors may offer a sliding scale of fees depending on your income.
  • Mental health or social services: If you are already a client of mental health or social services and feel you need an increased level of support because of your bereavement, get in touch with your regular support person.
  • Other people’s experiences: it can be enormously comforting to read about how other people have coped with bereavement and this may be all the support that you need. You can read other people's stories on websites such as Cruse Bereavement Care or Marie Curie or find books in the local library, bookshop or at Cruse’s publications and online bookstore.

Be aware that some charities and organisations:

  • have an answer machine where you will need to leave a message with your contact details and you might have to wait a day or two for a response
  • will have a waiting list for appointments or groups
  • might offer an assessment appointment where you meet with someone who will help identify what type of support will be best for you
  • will appreciate a donation towards their work if you have found their support helpful.

If you are in work

You may want to find out if your employer offers an employee assistance programme. If your supervisor or line manager is not aware, contact the human resources department. Most services of this type can offer support to people who are bereaved and details of the support you receive are not revealed to your employer.

Normally you don’t have to pay for this help and it is provided because your employer wants to keep their workforce healthy and able to work well. You can read more at Carers' rights at work.

More information

Page first published: 31 December 2015
Next review due: 31 May 2017