When you lose someone close to you at times the emotional pain can be so intense and overwhelming that you think that feeling will never end, you cannot see how you could ever be happy again or continue with life. The hurt and pain can seem so personal, this is something which has happened to you and nobody else, but it does help to keep reminding yourself that however hard and painful it is to bear the loss of a loved one, it is nevertheless part of life, it will happen to everyone at some stage or another.
Anyone who has been bereaved will know that your feelings can change very quickly from one minute to the next. One minute you may feel you are coping and the next dragged back into the depths of despair feeling there is no point in going on. The reality is that grief does run its course and although it does not feel like it - time is a healer - and if you allow yourself to grieve you should get to a stage where you can remember the person who has died and focus on the good memories. You can still miss the person terribly - but it won't be affecting your every day life or stopping you from moving on with your own life. When you get to that stage, yes there will be sadness when you remember your loved one but the enormous feeling of pain will have faded.
You may feel angry at the person who has died for leaving you on your own - you may feel guilty at having wished the person would die in cases for instance of a severely ill person who was suffering pain and a poor quality of life - these are perfectly normal feelings to have and try and express how you feel rather than keep those feelings inside you.
Everyone's reaction to grief is different but it is healthy and natural to express emotion - to get out your pain, anger, hurt, frustration, loneliness - rather than suppressing feelings which can ultimately make it harder to go through the grieving process and move on. You may find that family, friends, etc. do not allow you to talk about the person who has died, they may avoid talking about the person who has died, they may tell you not to cry - people are often afraid to talk because they may feel it would cause you more distress to mention the person. However many people who are bereaved want to talk and want to cry and this should be encouraged - if you are in a situation where you do not have people in your life to talk to there are helplines and counsellors who will allow you to talk and help you to grieve.
Don't be afraid to say to people that it helps you to talk and you want to talk. Sometimes other people just don't know the best way to help you or what they can say to help - when someone is grieving words can seem so meaningless and empty and other people cannot guess what will help you in your grieving.
It is common for some people to feel 'disloyal' to the person who has died by 'feeling better' - however the reality is that by 'feeling better' it does not mean the person means any less to you - just that you have accepted the reality that the person has gone. In order to carry on living you need to be able to let go of the person who has died and if you are finding great difficulty in that and a considerable period of time has elapsed since the person died - you may find that counselling will help you to let go. Holding onto pain will not help you to keep hold of the person you have lost and ultimately the person who has died would want you to move on with your life. If it helps to talk to the person who has died, to look at photos, to go to places where they enjoyed going, that is a way of keeping their memory alive but try not to stop it from allowing you to meet other people, get on with your everyday living, do things you enjoy, etc.
One of the difficult things to come to terms with - particularly in a sudden death - is that you may not have had time to say goodbye and all the things you wanted to say. To move on you need to allow yourself to say these things. Some people find it helps to go to a quiet place - maybe somewhere you know the person who has died would have liked and to speak out loud as if the person was there about everything you would have liked to have said before the person died - or some people find it helps to write a letter to the person who died and include in it everything they wanted to say. Find whatever way suits you which enables you to say everything you would have liked to have said but didn't.
Bereaved by murder
In some ways we can make some sense of death when we have lost someone through an illness and we may be able to rationalise and accept that this is part of life. In deaths where a loved one may have been murdered, may have been killed in a car accident by a speeding dangerous driver, it can be impossible to rationalise and make sense of because it is not a 'normal' part of life so you can't comfort yourself with that knowledge. It is natural to have enormous feelings of anger, rage, hatred, and wanting to take revenge against the person who has taken away your loved one. There is no way you can make sense of it and the unjustness of it and you have to get your feelings out in a safe way.
However hard it may be you have to try and find a way of reconciling yourself to what has happened, however unfair, unjust, wrong, it is as the alternative is that if you allow your life to be consumed with hatred, bitterness, rage it will in effect destroy your life and possibly the lives of those closest to you which will mean the person or persons responsible for taking away your loved one will have destroyed not only their life but your life and others as well. Some people find that in situations like this it helps them to be able to talk to others who have been through a similar situation and there are agencies specifically helping people who have had someone close to them murdered, killed in a road accident etc.
Some people find it helps to turn their anger into a positive force by becoming involved in a support group and working perhaps for more help for victims of crime, proper and just sentencing for offenders etc. Do whatever is going to help you to move on with your life, to help you to find some meaning in life again, to be able to enjoy things in life again, to be able to laugh, look forward to things, because that is what your loved one would want and would not want your life to be destroyed as well.
Bereaved by suicide
If you have been bereaved
Allow yourself to grieve - to express your feelings openly whether they be feelings of loss, anger, guilt, rage, loneliness, numbness, disbelief, confusion etc.
- Don't be afraid to tell others what will help you and what you need - whether it be someone just to listen, someone to talk to about your loved one, someone to look at photos with you, someone just to give you a hug, etc.
- Talk, talk and talk about your feelings as much as you want to - seek support from helplines, counsellors if you feel unsupported or that others are not there for you in the way that you need them to be.
- If you feel that there are things you wanted to say but didn't then deal with this in whatever way is right for you - believe that the person has heard and understood what you have said - this should bring you some sense of comfort and peace.
- Try to look after your physical health - you may find difficulty in eating, sleeping etc. but do what you can to look after yourself - the stronger you are physically the more strength you will have to deal with the wide range of emotions you may be experiencing.
- Believe that in time the pain will fade, you will be able to focus more on some of the good memories.
- It may be that you do not feel any real sadness at the death of the person who has died if you did not have a good relationship with that person, or it may be someone who caused you considerable hurt and pain - you have no need to feel guilty if you don't feel sad the person has died - your feelings are your feelings and nobody else's - nobody else had exactly the same relationship with the person that you had so you have a right to feel however you feel.
- Believe that the person would want you to move on with your life, would want you to laugh, to be happy, to find enjoyment in life.
- Look for new interests, hobbies, friends in order that you don't feel isolated and alone.
- If you find you are becoming very depressed and not able to let go of the person who has died and unable to move on with your life it may help to seek counselling and also to talk to your GP.
Talking to children who have been bereaved
- Allow your child to talk about the person who has died and answer any questions they have as honestly as you can.
- A child may feel that they were in some way to blame for the death (they may have been too naughty, too demanding etc.). Reassure your child that they are not to blame, death is a natural part of life and will happen to everyone at some time.
- Explain to your child that the person who died had no choice in the matter, it does not mean that the person who died did not love them or want to be there for them.
- A child may feel excluded if not included in funeral arrangements and if they are not allowed to attend the funeral - this can actually help a child to accept the reality of death and that the person who has died will not be coming back.
- If a child has difficulty in verbalising how he/she feels encourage your child to draw, write, use toys as a means of expressing how they are feeling.
- Explain to your child that it is okay to be angry, okay to cry, okay to feel lonely - these are all normal feelings to have.
- It may help your child if you ask them if they would like to do something special for the person who has died - this could be planting something in the garden, going down to the coast with you and throwing petals into the sea, making a special book in dedication of the person who has died (getting a scrapbook, sticking in photos, writing poems about the person who has died, writing stories about some of the things they had done together, photos of places they went with the person who died etc.)
- If your child talks and makes reference to the dead person allow them to do that freely.
- It may help at some stage to talk to your child about how to mark the anniversary of the person's death - perhaps go to a special place which the person who died loved to go to, maybe buy some flowers - ask them how they would like to remember the dead person - this may help the child to accept that the person will not be forgotten even though he/she and others need to move on with their lives.
- Your child may want to have some photos of the person who has died to keep in their own room or in a book and this may give some comfort to them.
- If a child has lost someone very close to them - it may help them to write a diary and to record each day what they would like to say to the person who has died. After a while the child should find that they may not feel the need to write every day and the writings will get less and less.
- Encourage your child to take up new hobbies, interests, may be join a group such as Guides, Scouts, St. Johns Ambulance, Red Cross - to enable the child to have something else to focus on and take interest in.
Agencies which provide support and information
The Bereavement Register:
020 7089 6403 or 0800 082 1230 (24 hour automated registration service)
Service specifically designed to remove from databases and mailing files, the names and addresses of people who have died.
Bereavement Trust Helpline:
0800 435 455 6pm-10pm every evening
Support for anyone who has been bereaved.
0808 8000 401
Helpline for people bereaved or injured in a road crash, listening ear and information on practical matters, and local counselling and trauma therapy services. Also offers assistance to police officers and other professionals.
Campaign Against Drinking and Driving:
Helpline 01924 562 252
To support and assist the victims and families of victims who have suffered death or injury by drunken drivers on the roads in the UK.
Child Bereavement Charity:
0800 02 888 40
Support for bereaved families, online discussion forums, information.
The Compassionate Friends:
0345 123 2304
Helpline and support services run by bereaved parents. Support to parents and their immediate families after the death of a child/children of any age and from any cause.
Northern Ireland Helpline: 0288 77 88 016
Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority: 0300 003 3601, www.cica.gov.uk.
Cruse Bereavement Care:
Helpline 0808 808 1677
Provides support services for people who have been bereaved. Helpline offering listening support and practical advice related to bereavement, including dealing with an estate, debt and arranging a funeral. Puts people in touch with local cruse branches that provide a range of services including individual and group support.
Cruse Bereavement Care: Hope
0808 808 1677
Helpline and other support for young people aged 12-18 following a bereavement. Also provide email and online support. Also group work with young people.
Child Death Helpline: 0800 282 986, www.childdeathhelpline.org.uk - Helpline for anyone affected by the death of a child of any age. Advice, information, listening, befriending, referrals and face to face service by arrangement.
Grief Encounter Project:
0808 802 0111
Workshops, one to one counselling telephone advice, resources and an interactive website for bereaved children, young people and their families.
The Laura Centre: www.thelauracentre.org - A family bereavement counselling centre which provides confidential counselling and group support free of charge for anyone affected by death of a child, at any age and from any cause. Any school aged child affected by the death of a parent, grandparent or significant adult. Telephone and email support throughout UK, face to face primarily Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Lincolnshire.
The Lullaby Trust
0808 802 6868
Offer confidential support to anyone affected by the sudden and unexpected death of a baby or young toddler. This is available immediately or at any later time in your lives. This support is for families, friends, carers and professionals.
Natural Death Centre: 01962 712690, www.naturaldeath.org.uk - Information on 200 natural burial grounds, biodegradable coffins and other coffins, how to organise an inexpensive green funeral with or without funeral directors, looking after someone dying at home, Living Wills, Death Plans etc.
RoadPeace: 0845 450 0355, www.roadpeace.org - Helpline providing practical and emotional support for people who have suffered bereavement or injury in a road crash. Advice on rights, finding a lawyer, counselling and other support services.
Rosie Crane Trust
01460 55120 24hr helpline
The Rosie Crane Trust provides support to bereaved parents.
SAMM (Support After Murder and Manslaughter):
0121 472 2912 / 0845 872 3440
Telephone support line for families and friends of homicide victims.
SCARD: (Support and Care After Road Death & Injury):
Helpline: 0345 1235542
To alleviate distress to people who have been bereaved, injured or affected by road death or injury. Set up by a family who lost their 27 year old son in a car accident. Provide emotional and practical support, helpline, support groups, meetings and personal support. Help assist and accompany affected families and individuals and friends to Crown, Magistrates, or Coroners Court. Send out independent and informative informative information with regard to the judicial system, provides access to free initial legal help and advice, can assist bereaved families with access to free counselling within and outside the organisation.
SLOW - Surviving the Loss of your World
SLOW (Surviving the Loss of your World) is an award-winning charity that supports bereaved families in London. SLOW runs support groups for bereaved parents after the devastating loss of a child in any circumstances. Bereaved parents are warmly welcome whether it is weeks, month or years since their child died.
LOW also works with children that have lost a sibling, so they can meet each other to reduce isolation and build resilience and confidence. Children between 6 and 14 years of age attend these SLOWsibs workshops.
In North London SLOW runs a weekly daytime group during school term time on Wednesday mornings and monthly evening groups for bereaved parents. The SLOWsibs creative workshops take place quarterly on Saturdays.
In South London we run weekly support groups on a Tuesday morning.
All our groups are led by experienced bereaved parent facilitators.
Please see our website for further details of our groups and dates.
North London contact
Nicola Whitworth 07532 423 674
South London contact
Michelle Tiedman 07908 93 77 22
Admin enquiries to
Kelly Carter 07734 577 407
Sue Ryder Online Bereavement Support
Service description (if needed): “Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Support makes it easy to connect with the right support from your own home. Whether you’re looking for one-to-one professional support, to talk to others in similar situations, or to read expert information resources, you can access support for free on your computer, tablet or smartphone.”
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide:
0300 111 5065
National Helpline and other support services run by a self help group for people bereaved by suicide. Helpline provides listening support and will put people in touch with their nearest local group. Monthly group meetings in various locations. Bereavement pack and literature for survivors. Conferences and support days.
0808 1689 111
Emotional support, information and practical help to victims of crimes ranging from burglary to murder through a network of local branches. The Witness Service, operating in every criminal court, offers support and practical information about the court process before, during and after a trial.
Way Up is an active self help group aimed at providing mutual support to those widowed in their 50s and 60s. It is a group with a positive forward looking attitude to rebuild our lives and discovering that lives can be good again, that we can be happy once more.
WAY Widowed and Young:
National charity for men and women aged 50 or under when their partner died. Peer-to-peer support group run by a network of volunteers who have been bereaved at a young age themselves so they understand exactly what other members are going through. More than 1,500 member across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
08088 020 021
Support for bereaved children and young people.
www.babyloss.com - Support to people who have suffered miscarriage or stillbirth. For women and their partners
www.bereavementuk.co.uk - Online support site for those who have been bereaved
www.funeralcostshelp.co.uk - the aim of this website is to assist those who have recently lost a loved one and are unable to find accurate information about funeral costs. Information includes: Arranging a funeral, finding suppliers, buying a Headstone, types of funeral, average funeral costs, help with funeral costs, legal requirements.
The Good Grief Trust enables anyone who has been bereaved to find their nearest local support organisation. Also practical help and tips from people who have been bereaved who tell their own stories.
Learn how to deal with money after a death, from paying for the funeral to looking after the paperwork and household bills.
www.thejollydollies.com - The Jolly Dollies are an organisation started by widows for widows whose main objective is to help widows regain a social life through friendship and organised social events. Our aim is to connect widows locally and nationally, so that The Jolly Dollies network can reach all those widows who want and deserve to have a full, happy and supportive social life.
The Loss Foundation is a registered charity providing support to people who have lost loved ones to cancer; spouses, family members, friends. The charity operates support groups within London and Oxford, and other supportive events. They also provide an array of bereavement information on their website to support those that fall out of their support group catchment area.
VCHARS was set up for the purpose of providing a free advice and referral service to support victims' families and friends of violent crime.
Free and impartial advice and support to those dealing with bereavement, as well as allowing people to compare funeral director costs in their area.The Funeral Choice advice section helps people with understanding funeral costs, planning, and attending funerals.
Online tribute charity, create a free tribute to remember and commemorate your loved one
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