What is grief?
Grief is something we experience when someone close to us dies. There is no right or ‘normal’ way to feel, as everyone experiences grief differently.
As it is natural to have a strong reaction to someone dying, you may feel:
- Shocked about what has happened
- Pain and distress
- Worried about other people’s reactions
When you’re grieving, it’s important to not put too much pressure on yourself to feel better.
To help you support yourself and others experiencing grief, Cruse Bereavement Care have put together a series of useful articles, including practical advice on what to do when someone dies.
COVID-19 and grief
Increased public talk of death can be distressing for people who are already grieving. For example, the current pandemic (COVID-19) may bring up painful or traumatic memories. Social distancing measures also mean people may now be cut off from their usual support networks, intensifying their grief and loneliness.
People are also being bereaved as a result of COVID-19. Because we are being asked to stay at home to help prevent the spread of the virus, it may mean people do not have the chance to spend time with the person who is dying or are unable to say goodbye. This can make it difficult to accept the reality of the bereavement.
Where can you go for support?
Grief is a natural response to loss that many people will cope with through support from family and friends. However, if you want to talk to someone else about your grief, there are services, organisations and community groups that can help you.
If you need support, you can use NHS talking therapies, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). These are free and you can refer yourself directly.
Some local areas might have specific bereavement counselling services, but they might not be free. You can check by visiting your local council website.
When should you see your GP about your mental health?
You should go to the doctor if:
- You’re struggling to cope with stress, anxiety or a low mood
- You’ve had a low mood for more than two weeks
- Things you’re trying yourself are not helping
- You would prefer to get a referral to a service from a GP
If you're in a crisis and need urgent help:
If you don't feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help by visiting your nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E) department or call 999.
If you need urgent support but don't want to go to A&E:
Find support on social media
Lots of people have set up their own online communities or accounts exploring grief and bereavement. For example, the UK Motherless Daughters Facebook group is a closed space for people to share their experiences and feelings.
These groups can be particularly helpful if you’re waiting for NHS support or are currently unable to access traditional support because of COVID-19.
You can find these groups by searching key words, like grief and loss, on different social media channels. Some examples that might help you are:
- Griefcase (Instagram)
- The Grief Gang (Instagram)
- Your New Normal (Instagram)
- Siblings Grieve Too (Instagram)
- Live. Death. Whatever. (Twitter)
- The Loss Project (Twitter)
Other types of online support
- Apart of Me is a game designed to help young people cope with the death of loved one.
- The Griefcast is a podcast where comedians talk about their own experiences of death and bereavement.
- Grief Encounters is a podcast about love, life and loss.
Charities and community organisations
There are lots of organisations that can help you if you’ve been bereaved. This article has a selection of national charities and community groups, but to find the full range of support available to you, you can use the At a Loss website.
Many of the organisations below run helplines, online chat services or are arranging digital meet ups to continue providing supporting during the pandemic.
Organisations supporting adults
Cruse Bereavement Care provides bereavement support to people across the UK. If you need someone to talk to you can call their helpline.
808 808 1677 - Monday to Friday, 9.30am-5pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, when they're open until 8pm.
Death Cafes are local groups of people getting together to drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. They are run entirely by volunteers. Find your nearest Death Cafe on their website.
WAY Foundation is a national charity that supports people who have been widowed before their 51st birthday.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide is a self-help organisation which exists to meet the needs of those bereaved by the suicide of anyone close to them.
0300 111 5065 - Monday to Friday, 9am-9pm
Macmillan Cancer Support provide information and support for anyone affected by cancer.
0808 808 0000 - Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
The Anne Robson Trust have launched a national helpline to support those who are isolating to cope whilst a loved one is dying.
0808 801 0688 - Monday to Friday, 12noon - 6pm
Organisations supporting children and their families
Grief Encounter is a charity supporting children and their families who have experienced the death of someone close to them.
0808 802 0111 - Monday to Friday 9am-9pm
Winston’s Wish support children and their families after the death of a parent or sibling. If you need advice on supporting a bereaved child, you can phone their helpline.
0808 802 0021 - Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals both when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, and when a child is facing bereavement.
0800 028 8840 - Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
Organisations supporting young people
Hope Again is website set up by Cruse Bereavement Care for young people.
Let’s Talk About Loss is a peer-led meet up group in cities across the UK for young people aged 18-35 who have been bereaved at any stage.
The New Normal runs grief support meetings to connect young adults who have all experienced loss and are looking for others who understand.
The Grief Network is a London based network for people bereaved as a teenager or in their 20s and 30s.
End of life organisations
Compassion in Dying is helping people to prepare for end of life.
0800 999 2434 - Monday to Friday, 11am-3pm
Hospice UK is a national charity for hospice and palliative care.