Most people experience grief when they lose something or someone important to them. If these feelings are affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help. Support is also available if you're finding it hard to cope with stress, anxiety or depression.
Bereavement, grief and loss can cause many different symptoms and they affect people in different ways. It's not always easy to recognise when bereavement, grief or loss are the reason you're acting or feeling differently. There's no right or wrong way to feel.
Operate a free bereavement support line for all NHS, care sector staff and emergency service workers, available from 8am - 8pm every day. A team of fully qualified and trained bereavement specialists are available to support you with bereavement and wellbeing issues relating to loss experienced through your work. Telephone: 0300 303 4434.
The charity support service has a bereavement helpline to call if someone you know has died. They can give you advice, guidance and practice support. Available from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Telephone 0800 2600 400.
Cruse offer specialist bereavement advise and provide support in all types of loss. They have a free national helpline and also offer an online chat function. Telephone: 0808 808 1677 - Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 9.30am to 8pm and Weekends 10am to 2pm.
Provides support for anyone who has lost a child, and for children themselves who are bereaved.
Offer online bereavement website and provide up to 6 free counselling sessions.
Local charity where volunteers offer bereavement support for Harrow and Hillingdon and neighbouring areas struggling with issues around loss. Telephone: 020 8427 5720.
Offers support to people under 50 who have lost a partner.
Provides a support helpline, counselling referral and befriending service for all those suffering from bereavement, grief, living loss, mental health issues, and those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic available 7am - 10pm, seven days a week. Telephone: 0800 448 0800.
Live chat with a bereavement counsellor for free, 9am - 9pm Monday - Friday.
Emotional and practical support and local groups for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide. Telephone: 0300 111 5065
Understanding the five stages of grief
- Denial - Feeling numb is common in the early days after a bereavement
- Anger - Anger is a completely natural emotion, and very natural after someone dies
- Bargaining - When we are in pain, it’s sometimes hard to accept that there’s nothing we can do to change things
- Depression - Sadness and longing are perhaps what we think of most often when we think of grief
- Acceptance - Grief comes in waves and it can feel like nothing will ever be right again
To learn more about the stages of grief, click here
Coping with the death of a patient
You may have feelings of loss and bereavement when a patient dies and the event may also evoke feelings of guilt or anger - you may feel that you, or others, could have done more to help the patient during their final illness. Whereas relatives of the deceased are allowed to grieve, as health and social care staff, you may feel you have no 'permission' to express your emotions.
And sometimes the death of a patient may reawaken feelings of a personal loss that you have experienced previously. Here are some tips from The British Medical Association on how to cope.
One of the particular challenges of loss during the pandemic is that increasing numbers of people and households are being told to self-isolate or socially distance from friends and family. Grief at any time is difficult and painful, and whilst Covid-19 may present additional challenges to the process, you will also experience all of the normal pain of loss and separation.
Changes have been made to several services, including end of life and palliative care, as well as funeral arrangements. You may feel that you need some extra help and support during this time.
You may be finding it particularly difficult at the moment because of the changes in place to try to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Read the latest guidance from The British Psychological Society: Supporting yourself and others: coping with death and grief
Support after sudden bereavement during Covid-19
Thrive LDN has put a new resource together to support you if you are grieving the sudden death of someone close to you, or if you are supporting someone going through sudden bereavement.
Watch the webinar below that talks about grief and loss in the context of Covid-19 and how to make new meaning.
Try talking about your feelings
Relaxation and mindfulness
Peter Helmer, our NHS mindfulness practitoner runs free weekly sessions, find all the details here.
6 ways to feel happier
Simple lifestyle changes to help you feel more in control and able to cope.
Free mental wellbeing audio guides
Listen to a variety of free mental wellbeing audio guides available here.
Get enough sleep
Learn how to relax before bed, making sure your bedroom is a calm place and as clear of distractions as possible. Visit our managing sleep self-help resource page for further tips.
Bereavement and grief self-help guide: an NHS guide
Work through this self-help guide for coping with bereavement and grief that uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
For managers and team leaders
Returning to work after losing a loved one can be an incredibly difficult and emotionally fragile time. As an employer, it is crucial that you provide a supportive, open and flexible working environment for employees going through a bereavement.
Bereavement Leave Policy
A bereavement leave policy provides both line managers and employees with guidance and reassurance of what to expect if they experience a bereavement. A bereavement leave policy can empower a line manager on how and what to communicate with a bereaved employee. It also gives an employee reassurance and certainty about their situation.
Invite open conversations
It is important that employers invite and encourage an employee who has experienced a bereavement to have open discussions and share how they are feeling. These conversations can help both the line manager and the employee, as it allows them to better plan and manage their employee’s workload whilst they are off.
It is important that a line manager is empathetic towards an employee who has been bereaved. This helps build an open conversation and helps the employee feel comfortable speaking to their line manager. Empathy cannot be prescribed and some people may be better at it than others. If you find it difficult to empathise with emotional pain, it can help to imagine a bereaved employee’s pain as being something physical, which would temporarily prevent them from achieving their normal tasks.
Offer time from the workplace
Grief affects everybody in different ways and no two experiences of grief are the same. Some colleagues may feel able to return to work very swiftly, whilst others may need more time. A conversation about when the colleague anticipates returning to work may not be appropriate in the first days of bereavement. However, it is important to start a dialogue which will allow an open discussion around how they are coping and the organisation’s procedure on bereavement leave.
Manage expectations when the bereaved employee returns to work
Managers should not assume that because a colleague has returned to work that they are no longer experiencing grief or are ‘over it’. Line managers should hold regular reviews with the colleague to ensure communication remains open and the colleague feels able to share any issues as they arise. Managers should be aware that bereavement can have an impact on performance and this should be taken into account.
Offer flexibility around work patterns
A bereavement will frequently lead to changes in the personal and financial circumstances of the bereaved colleague. Be mindful of the family unit of the bereaved colleague, and appreciate that in many cases, if possible a flexible approach for example, offering part-time hours, or flexible working is most likely to support and retain the employee.
Create safe spaces to discuss grief
Having the courage to talk openly about personal experiences of death and grief or providing time and space for employees to discuss it can help normalise conversations and raise awareness.