What is bereavement?

Bereavement is what we experience when we lose someone important to us. It is characterised by grief which is the process and range of feelings that we go through as we adjust to the loss.

Everyone experiences grief differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Other life experiences that might trigger feelings of grief include; the end of relationship, the loss of a job or moving to a new location.

Symptoms of grief

The many symptoms of grief include shock, numbness, anger and guilt. Visit the NHS website for more information about the symptoms of grief and ways of coping with bereavement, grief and loss. The Royal College of Psychiatrists also has information for anyone who has been bereaved, their family and friends.

Support with practicalities of death

Immediately after a death, there are practical things that need to be done such as registering the death and arranging the funeral. Visit the UK Government site for more information. Tell Us Once is a service that enables you to report a death to most government organisations in one go. Help available if the death occurred in Northern Ireland. Help available if a death occurred in Scotland.

Bereavement support available

Support for RAF families

  • SSAFA offers three support groups for bereaved families, providing events which facilitate peer support, a safe space to grieve and an opportunity for respite. More information.

  • The Purple Pack offers advice and support for relatives and partners of members of the Armed Forces who die in service.

Support for bereaved young people

  • Cruse Bereavement Care offers free support for people bereaved by death, in any way, whatever their age, nationality or belief. Help includes 1-to-1 bereavement support, bereavement support groups and advice or information on practical matters and a helpline.

    Helpline: 0808 808 1677
    Email: [email protected] or [email protected]
    Website: cruse.org.uk

  • Hope Again is the youth website of Cruse Bereavement Care. It is a safe place, where young people who are facing grief can share their stories with others.

    Helpline: 0808 808 1677 (Monday-Friday, 9:30am – 5:00pm)
    Email: [email protected]
    Website: hopeagain.org.uk

Support for those affected by suicide

  • The Ministry of Defence and Veterans UK have produced the “Help is at Hand” booklet which provides information, support and guidance for those affected by suicide. It is a resource for people bereaved through suicide or other unexplained death, and for those helping them. The guide can be viewed online or downloaded.

    Download: Help is at hand Booklet

  • At Your Side is a series of bereavement guides developed by Suicide Bereavement UK specifically for the Armed Forces community, including personnel, veterans and family members.

    Website: suicidebereavementuk.com/armedforces

Stillbirth support

  • Sands is the stillbirth and neonatal death charity it provides support to anyone affected by the death of a baby. Sands has local support groups around the country, an online community and telephone helpline.

    National Helpline (free): 0808 1643332
    Email: [email protected]

    Sands has also produced a downloadable Bereavement Support Book which contains a wealth of information and a Bereavement Support App that contains information and support for bereaved parents, grandparents, families and friends.

  • Dandelion Military Families has partnered with Sands to create a dedicated bereavement support meeting for members of the Armed Forces community, who have experienced pregnancy or baby loss. Dandelion understand and recognise the unique and isolating circumstances of pregnancy and baby loss alongside military life and feel it is important to create this space for the military community.

    Email: [email protected]

Support following the death of a same-sex partner