Thank you for wanting to support someone who is bereaved. At the end of this section is a short film that we have produced about supporting a bereaved person. This was produced to support people bereaved and isolated during the Coronavirus pandemic but the principles are exactly the same. Please do have a look.
It may feel quite natural to support a family when a loved one is ill or just after they have died, but after the funeral, visits often die down, and the bereaved person can begin to feel less numb as the reality of what has happened sinks in. Eventually outsiders can feel that those who experienced the bereavement should be ‘over it’. However providing longer term support can make a lasting impact on the family and help them process their grief in a healthier way.
So make sure you can provide the on-going support a person may need for weeks and months following the death. Share the responsibility with another good friend of the bereaved person if you a busy person with a family but always be proactive in offering help rather than saying "You know where I am. Let me know if you need anything". If you and the bereaved person go to a place of worship and there are people involved in pastoral support, it might be helpful to provide a volunteer to support the family on a longer term basis. If this is the case, get them involved in helping with the funeral and also in pre and post funeral visits. If they can be present at the service, they will have a stronger relationship with the family which will help in providing on-going support.
If you can, always pay a visit to the bereaved family the day after the funeral. This will give the family a chance to discuss the funeral and how they are feeling following it.
Get in touch regularly, whether through a visit or a phone call. If you’re in regular contact you’re in a good place to see how they are coping.
Provide continuing practical support such as meals or lifts, but try to ensure you are not disempowering them, as they will find having some practical jobs to do helpful. Offer to take them shopping or help them plan their meals - well-being is really important when you are bereaved. Have a look at our well-being pages on this website.
Mention the bereavement – talk with them about the person who died openly and give them permission to talk about it themselves. It’s OK if they cry.
Help them look back by remembering with them the person they have lost, but also help them look forward to things they will enjoy in the future.
Remember the anniversary of the death, perhaps with a card or with a cake, such as Nigella Lawson's Remembrance cake - the recipe is HERE. Or give them one of these lovely Heartsease Remembering Someone Badges, available HERE.
The bereavement may bring new caring responsibilities with it, so you may need to chat through these changes with them or offer practical support.
For more information about supporting bereaved young people, please see the drop down menu of the Recently Bereaved section of the website where you will find a section full of information and a film to show a young person about funerals.
We are gathering here resources specifically for helping others who are grieving.
A very useful little guide on how to support bereaved people has been produced by Care for the Family. You can download 'Top Tips for Bereavement' leaflet here.
The Path Not Chosen, booklet published by CWR
Living with Loss, booklet published by Lifewords.
If the bereaved person is living with dementia:
The Alzheimer's Society has produced this helpful factsheet on supporting someone who has Alzheimer's. Click
Basic guides in helping the bereaved are:
Insight into Bereavement, book published by CWR
First Steps Through Bereavement by Sue Mayfield.
What to say to a bereaved person in a sympathy card
Help with sympathy messages can be found at: http://www.sympathymessageideas.com
Available through at Ataloss.org:
TOUGHstuff - material for teenage support (see ListeningPeople).
TOUGHstuff journal for young people suffering the loss of parental separation
TOUGHstuff journal for bereaved young people is now available
The Bereavement Journey Course Website
Faith Questions in Bereavement booklet is available from The Bereavement Journey website
Training to support the bereaved
AtaLoss.org offers ListeningPeople to professionals - youth leaders, teachers, school chaplains - who deal with young people day to day, training them to listen to teenagers affected by loss in their communities and/or local schools.
We can provide bereavement support training for the workplace, tailoring it to suit your employee needs. Contact us at [email protected]
Information about training, resources and opportunities for churches can be found on the Loss and HOPE website
Please also see the Resources page on this website for publications and online resources for the bereaved which you may find useful. If you have found particular resources - books, articles, websites, videos, films etc - and can recommend them to others, please tell us about them. Complete the form here and we will add it to the resources list.