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Family and friends can be a great support as you try to cope with the loss of a loved one. But there is other help available if you need it.

If you, or a relative, feel that you need additional support, there are lots of options available. Many charities and hospices offer help and advice, with trained volunteers who can talk to you about your feelings. There are also professional counsellors who provide specialist palliative care and bereavement services.

Where to turn to for support during the grieving process

  • Local and national charities: many charities provide bereavement 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. Cruse is the main bereavement charity. Cancer Research and Macmillan can help deal with the loss of a loved one to cancer.
  • 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: many hospices provide bereavement support, but this may be restricted to the families of people the hospice has cared for. Use the Hospice UK online search tool to find a hospice near you, then check out the services that they offer.
  • Your GP: if your grief has led to you feeling physically run down or unwell, or depressed, seek advice from your GP.
  • Private counselling: if you can afford private counselling, or have private health insurance that covers this, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) can help you to find a counsellor in your area. It also offers 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 comforting to hear how other people have coped with bereavement, and share experiences. You can read real-life stories, or connect with others in similar situations using online forums, on websites such as Cruse Bereavement Care, Macmillan, Cancer Research or Marie Curie.
  • Useful publications: Look in your local library, bookshop or online bookstore for books that might help you to understand your feelings and work out coping strategies. Cruse Bereavement Care recommends some books that may be helpful in certain circumstances. There is also lots of helpful advice from charities (see Useful organisations and websites).

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

Some larger organisations offer Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) to help their employees deal with personal issues that might affect their psychological health and wellbeing, and their ability to do their job. This should include giving support to people who have been bereaved.

Speak to your supervisor or line manager to find out if your employer offers access to an EAP. If they are not sure, contact the human resources department. These schemes are independent and confidential, so the details of the support you receive should not be revealed to your employer.

Normally you don’t have to pay for this help and it's 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 last reviewed: May 2017
Next review due: November 2019