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Getting bereavement support

A number of charities have professional counsellors and trained volunteers who can offer one-to-one sessions during the grieving process.
4 min read
In this article
Where to turn to for support during the grieving process How an employer may help Financial help in bereavement

Where to turn to for support during the grieving process

If you, or a relative, feel that you would benefit from 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 help you talk 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:

0808 808 1677

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.


Chat to others in your cancer community using:

Cancer Chat

For general enquiries:

0300 123 1022

Mon–Fri, 8am–6pm (closed Wed 11am–11.30am, weekends and Bank Holidays)

The Good Grief Trust

Provides free advice on how to deal with bereavement and where to get support. Use the online directory to search for bereavement services and support groups in your area.

The Good Grief Trust

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:

Online community

Practical and emotional support at the end of life and through bereavement. Call:

0808 808 0000

Mon–Fri, 9am–8pm

Marie Curie

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.


Visit the Marie Curie Community to find support from people like you:


Call the support line team:

0800 090 2309

Mon–Fri 8am–6pm; Sat 11am–5pm

Sue Ryder

Providing palliative and neurological support from specialist centres and in peoples homes, as well as bereavement support.


Free short-term support for anyone grieving for a loved one. Sessions are with qualified counsellors and held online using video chat.

Online Bereavement Counselling Service


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.

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, or look on the website of your local church or place of worship.

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 it offers.

Your GP 

If your grief has led to you feeling physically run down, 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’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.

Useful publications

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.

Financial help in bereavement

If your spouse or civil partner dies when you are aged over 45 but below state pension age, you may be entitled to Bereavement Support Payment. This is a state benefit made up of a one-off lump sum (of up to £3,500 in 2019-20), followed by monthly payments of £100-£350 for up to 18 months. 

If your spouse or partner died before 6 April 2017, the relevant benefits are Bereavement Payment or Bereavement Allowance.

Which? Money provides more advice on benefits you may be eligible for if your partner dies.

Further reading

Coping with grief

You may be coping with your own grief as well as that of a parent or other close relative or friend. Here, we explain ...

What is grieving?

The experience of grief is unique to each person, just as the nature of relationships is unique. We explain the range ...

Registering a death

After the medical certificate has been issued, the next stage is to register the death. Here, we explain the next steps.

Last updated: 29 Nov 2019