Where to turn to for support during the grieving process
If you, or a relative, feel that you need additional support to come to terms with your loss, 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.
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, where you can connect with others in similar situations. The main national ones are:
Cruse Bereavement Care
Somewhere to turn when someone dies offering telephone, email, and face-to-face and group support.
If someone you know has died and you need to talk, call:
Mon and Fri, 9.30am–5pm (excluding Bank Holidays); Tue–Thu, 9.30am–8pm
Cancer Research UK
Pioneers research and funds scientists, doctors and nurses to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. Also, provides cancer information to the public.
For general enquiries:
Mon–Fri, 8am–6pm (closed Wed 11am–11.30am, weekends and Bank Holidays)
Macmillan Cancer Support
One of the UK's largest British charities, which provides specialist health care, information and financial support for people affected by cancer.
A place to share experiences, ask questions or vent your emotions and find others who understand:
Practical and emotional support at the end of life and through bereavement. Call:
Whether it's dementia, cancer, motor neurone disease, heart failure, Parkinson's disease or any other illness, Marie Curie will be here for you and your family to help you cope after a terminal diagnosis.
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.
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, or look on the website of your local church or place of worship.
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 it offers.
If your grief has led to you feeling physically run down, unwell or depressed, seek advice from your GP.
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’s involved. Some counsellors may offer a sliding scale of fees depending on your income.
Mental health or social services
If you’re 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.
Look in your local library, bookshops or online 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 the charities listed above.
How an employer may help
Some larger organisations offer an Employee Assistance Programme (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’re 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 - it’s provided because your employer wants to keep its workforce healthy and able to work well. You can read more at carers’ rights at work.
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