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.
You can find out more here: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/coping-grief
COVID-19 and grief
Increased public talk of death can be distressing for people who are already grieving. For example, the current pandemic 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.
You may have been bereaved as a result of Covid. 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.
Cruse has some useful information specifically to support people who have lost someone to Covid. https://www.cruse.org.uk/coronavirus/trauma Their Helpline is open and ready to hear from you.
Where can I get 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.
You can find talking therapies near you here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-psychological-therapies-service/
Read on for details of support groups and voluntary services which can support you
When should I see a GP about my 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 2 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:
- Call Samaritans on freephone 116 123 – they're always open and are there to listen.
- Contact your GP surgery and ask for an emergency appointment
- Contact NHS 111
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. Please note that we are not checking these sites regularly so we cannot vouch for all their content.
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)
- 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. Call 808 808 1677
Friends Together is based in West Kent. They run a Grief Chat which is a completely free service and is available Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm.
Call 01732 360328
Death Cafes are local groups of people getting together to drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. They are run entirely by volunteers. Although they may not be meeting physically right many are meeting virtually. Find your nearest here. https://deathcafe.com/
WAY Foundation is a national charity that supports people who have been widowed before their 51st birthday.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide exists to meet the needs of those bereaved by the suicide of anyone close to them. Call 0300 111 5065 - Monday to Friday, 9am-9pm
Macmillan Cancer Support provide information and support for anyone affected by bereavement due to cancer. Call them on 0808 808 0000
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. Call 0808 802 0111 - Monday to Friday 9am-9pm
Holding On Letting Go is a Kent-based charity that helps children to cope with the death of someone close to them.
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. Call 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. Call 0800 028 8840 - Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
Jigsaw South East provides information, advice and guidance to help support bereaved children and young people and those facing the death of a loved one. They support families across Surrey, parts of West Sussex, Kent and surrounding areas. Call 01342 313895 – Monday to Friday 9am – 12pm
Slide Away is a charity which works in partnership with schools in West Kent. Their aim is for all children to have access to a bereavement support service.
You can email them here firstname.lastname@example.org
Organisations supporting 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. You can find them here: https://www.instagram.com/talkaboutloss/
The New Normal runs grief support meetings to connect young adults who have all experienced loss and are looking for others who understand.