I often mention at Death Cafes, when I open and discuss that the events are not specifically for bereavement support, that if people are seeking this then I can signpost them in the direction of some great resources and charities which exist to support people in these times. The truth is, you don’t have to look far to find support for grief but it is one of the hardest things to talk about and experiences to go through. For a large number of people there will be the support of their family or friends, and this can be enough to help you through the experience. However, for some this will not be available or feel like an option and everyone will experience grief in their own way. A huge number of projects and charities exist to help people in the vast range of different situations that may find you bereaved or experiencing grief in some way or another.
One thing I found hugely encouraging was that there is a specific nature in a number of the charity work out there that exists. Charities like The Good Grief Trust are great as a place to start to find help. I like their homepage (thegoodgrieftrust.org) because it is friendly looking and simple. They include the quote from their CEO and Founder Linda Magistris that ‘grief can be complicated, but access to support should never be’, and this appears to be the whole ethos of the support that they provide. This charity, and a number of others, break down from the start of what kind of grief you may be experiencing, whether that be the loss of a child, parent, friend or even sibling. This recognition of the different types of loss and how this can impact people differently is important in making people feel seen in their experience but also tailoring the support to that specific experience.
From what I have personally seen, people generally expect to have their grandparents and parents die during their own lifetime. This does not make it any easier because it is expected, in fact I think in some ways this can make it more difficult. Due to the fact this is something we are thought to expect, it is not entirely accepted when people open up about their grief and if it is particularly affecting them in a harsher way. In this same vein, pet bereavement is something that we all know that we are potentially going to face when we have a pet. Some parents even purposefully have pets to teach their children about grief and loss. However, often you will find that people can be mocked or belittled for opening up about the grief over the death of a pet and little is largely understood about the depth and similarity to the death of a family member that it can be in nature.
What I want to illustrate in this blog post is that there is no set way of grieving or anything that anyone ‘should’ be doing. You can even grieve for someone or something without them having died, something leaving your life is enough. No one needs to suffer or feel like they are alone in this, and there is a lot available to absolutely everyone in any situation. Here I will list everything I have found and please feel free to get in touch if you have anything to add or would like to seek any other help. I also want this post to serve as a place for future reference so I will regularly update and flag it up for people.
The Good Grief Trust – https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/
As I mentioned above, this is the first place I point people in the direction of. Their homepage alone has so much information, including a post code search to find help local to you. There you will find useful phone numbers of a huge number of specific organisations and links which take you through to resources for the different kinds of grief you could be experiencing. Currently there is a focus on COVID-19 restrictions and loss too which is great for those not sure of how to proceed during the pandemic.
Mind are a great mental health charity, and this section of their website is focused on the different resources available to those experiencing bereavement. I like that there are links here to the organisations BEAD (Bereaved through Alcohol and Drugs), SOBS (Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide) and WAY (Widowed and Young, support for those under 50 who lose a partner). A lot of people would not know that these kind of resources are available, particularly for these sensitive subjects around loss.
Cruse – https://www.cruse.org.uk/
Cruse are a specific bereavement charity who help with specific bereavement support after loss. I think that one good thing about their page is the highlight of two articles, one titled ‘How long does grief last?’ and the other ‘Is this normal?’. One of the biggest pressures on people undergoing a form of grief is either feeling that they are abnormal or not going fast enough through the processes to a return to ‘normal’ life. It’s important to remember that there is no time limit or set timeframe in which to grieve, it takes as long as it does which is different for every person.
The list on this page is one of the most comprehensive I have seen and covers a wide range of different types of loss and bereavement.
Child Bereavement UK – https://www.childbereavementuk.org/
I have spoken to a lot of people about how to speak to children about death, one of the biggest fears people have is saying the wrong things or not supporting their child well enough through a grief process. Child Bereavement UK is an amazing resource with events planned throughout the UK to make it easier to speak to children and bring people together who may be able to help each other through their experiences. They also run training sessions covering different aspects of speaking to and helping children through grief.
The Blue Cross have an amazing service available to those who may be suffering the loss or death of a pet, with phone and online support available including an email service. They also run courses for professionals to help pet owners through loss and give tips on how to help your other pets that may be showing signs of grief from a death.
As I said above, my plan is for this resource to grow and continue to be available for people to use. Please feel free to share and get in touch if you have anything you think should be included.