Bereavement and grief

What to do and what may help when someone dies

We extend their sincere condolences to you and your family at this sad time. The aim of this webpage is to provide you with information about some common reactions to grief and to tell you about the help and support that our Bereavement Service can offer you.

Bereavement can be very difficult to accept and is known to be one of the most difficult and painful experiences you will face and have to deal with. During the first few weeks, you may feel confused about what you are experiencing, or may feel unexpected emotions. Regardless of whether or not the death of someone important to you was expected, the reality of their death can be shocking.


Grief is a natural reaction in response to loss and bereavement which may involve a complex mixture of emotions and feelings.

Usually people do not experience these different emotions in clear “stages” or a predictable pattern. There is no ʻnormalʼ way to grieve; each person’s grief is individual. However, there are certain elements which are recognisable and common.

Common reactions to loss: You might feel . . .

deep sadness, disbelief, confusion, anger, fear, overwhelmed, powerless, worry, guilt, numb, irritable, hopeless
regret, yearning, relief

Physically, you might be . . .
restless, trembling, unable to sleep, jumpy, not hungry, dizzy, exhausted, anxious, experience palpitations, weak, yearning, achy, having a headache, tearful, eating more than usual

You may notice you are . . .
unable to concentrate, questioning your own beliefs, losing track of time, having flashbacks or nightmares, avoiding certain thoughts, worrying about the future, using more alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs, lacking confidence, feeling ʻout of itʼ

You may experience some, or all, of these things at some point. These are all common symptoms of grief, loss and bereavement, which may persist for several months and sometimes longer. It may be useful to talk through any of
these symptoms with your GP. For some hours or days following the death of a loved one, some people feel totally stunned. A feeling of disbelief is common, even if the death has been expected.

During the funeral you may feel detached or feel what is happening is unreal. Many describe this as a very painful time as the reality of the loss becomes clearer.

Following the funeral, your life may be affected in many different ways. You may need to take time out from your usual day-to-day activities. However, keeping to a routine and taking care of your physical and emotional needs is very important at this time. You may find it difficult to relax, concentrate or sleep. There are techniques that may help with this, e.g. relaxation strategies, podcasts and self-help books.

Family and friends can help
Being close to family and friends can be a great source of comfort. It is not always necessary to say anything,
just being there is enough. However, you may experience difficulty in talking to family and friends who do not seem to understand, or who you may be protecting from your emotions.

Misunderstandings may arise because not everyone in a family will grieve in the same way, or at the same pace. It may be useful to communicate your feelings and needs to a family member or close friend to gain the support you need.

Things that can help you and your family

Things that may help you and your family

  • Talk to a friend, family member or someone you trust. Often people want to help and offer support but may not know what your needs are.
  • Try to find a daily routine as this can help to create a sense of ʻsamenessʼ when other changes have to be managed.
  • Eating regular nourishing meals and taking as much rest as possible can be useful in helping you to manage physically and emotionally. You may notice sleep patterns change, try to be patient with yourself as these adjustments can take time.
  • Try to avoid crutches such as alcohol or non-prescription drugs to ease your emotional difficulties.
  • Consider taking up previously enjoyed activities or going for a simple walk. This can ease emotional distress and increase a sense of wellbeing.
  • Remember the Katharine House Bereavement Team is here to help you through the difficult times.

Useful links to bereavement support

The Dove Service

Grief support providing counselling support, self-help resources on website and a Facebook group

Contact details: Telephone 01782 68375 (Mon-Fri) email:

Men Unite – a support group for men who have been affected a number of issues including isolation and bereavement; find them on Facebook or visit their website and use the chat function

Stafford and District Bereavement and Loss (SB&L) support to anyone who has been affected by a bereavement or a loss, who lives in Stafford or the surrounding area. Stafford & District Bereavement & Loss Support Service – Home | Facebook

Contact details: Telephone:07828 263554  email:

At a Loss – Signposting Bereaved People to Support.

Compassionate Friends – A national self-help organisation for bereaved parents Helpline: 0345 123 2304

Cruse Bereavement Care – Counselling and advice service for bereaved people that offers information and practical support.

Cruse offers a helpline, webchat, and local services. Bereavement support, advice and information to children, young people and adults. Calls are free to the Helpline. Ongoing telephone support is available when needed following helpline support. Contact details: Telephone: 0808 808 1677 Email:

Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service – a dedicated Jewish bereavement counselling service Tel: 020 8951 3881

Mind – National Association for Mental Health North Staffs branch Tel: 01782 262100

Sakoon Islamic Counselling – provides an Islamic perspective in counselling (including bereavement)

Tel: 07943 561 561   email:

Samaritans – A 24 hour support line 08457 90 90 90

Sikh Helpline – offering support on a range of issues call on 0845 644 0704

Stafford and District bereavement and Loss support – Offering support to those who are experiencing grief  07828 263554   email:

Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline (Brighter Futures) – A free and confidential helpline for people who may be worried, stressed or feeling low. Tel: 0808 800 2234

The Association of Christian Counsellors: offers advice counselling and support and signposts to other organizations Tel: 024 7644 9694

The Silver Line – free confidential helpline providing information, friendship and advice to older people
Tel: 0800 4 70 80 90

The Terrance Higgins Trust – offers practical support, help and counselling to anyone with concern about AIDS or HIV Helpline 0808 802 1221

The WAY (Widowed and Young) Foundation -supports young widowed men and women (aged 50 and under) as they adjust to life after the death of a partner




Grief in children and adolescents

Grief in children and adolescents

You know your child/children best and how you can help them deal with the loss of a loved one will be influenced by your personal beliefs, faith and culture. The following information may help you to understand the way your child/children is reacting and how to help them at this time. Although it is generally believed that children do not understand the meaning of death until they reach three or four years of age, they feel the loss of a loved one in much the same way as adults. It is clear that even in infancy children grieve.

Children experience the passage of time differently to adults and can therefore appear to overcome grief quite quickly and it can sometimes be easy to miss their sadness. Nevertheless, children in their early school years may need reassuring as they try to make sense of what is going on around them.

 A child may display symptoms such as:

  • Becoming very clingy to a parent
  • Bed wetting
  • Problems sleeping
  • Behavioural problems at school or home (For example, anger or withdrawal).

These are all natural reactions. Children will often not want to burden parents by talking about their feelings; therefore it is important the grief of a child is not overlooked. Adolescence can be a physically and emotionally challenging time for teenagers. Communication can often be difficult following the death of a loved one as they often feel a sense of injustice and question the reason for the death. In addition, they can feel isolated and excluded. After a death, adolescents can sometimes test the boundaries by staying out late and/or losing interest in school, college or friends/hobbies. It may help to talk to them about their feelings as it is important that they feel someone is listening to them and acknowledging their feelings.

We often want to protect children and adolescents from the pain and symptoms of grief; however the truth is that they will grieve anyway.

No matter what age your child is, it may be useful to be open about your feelings. Sharing some of your own feelings may help to reassure them that their grief reactions are natural; it is natural to cry and miss someone you love when they have died. If your child sees you crying, or hears you talking about feeling sad, upset, or even angry, this can help them to talk about their own feelings and allow them to grieve too. Organisations which you may find helpful are listed in the useful contacts section of this webpage

Support for children and adolescents: Useful links

Support for children and adolescents: Useful links

Dove Service – A local service which provides bereavement support and counselling for adults, children and adolescents. 01782 683155 / 683153

Child Bereavement UK

Assist children, parents and families to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies. Support children and young people up to the age of 25 who are facing bereavement, and anyone affected by the death of a child of any age.

Contact details:  Telephone: 0800 028 8840 Email:

Child Bereavement UK

Childhood Bereavement Network – 020 7843 6309


Offers free bereavement support, through alliance member Nafsiyat Intercultural Therapy Centre, including therapeutic support in over 20 languages, to people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

Contact details: Telephone: 0207 263 6947 Email: BAMEStream

Edward’s Trust Sunrise – support and counselling for children of school age 0121 4541705

Grief Encounter – helps bereaved children and young people following a family death 020 837 18455

Winston’s Wish– Offers support, information and guidance to people caring for a bereaved child or young person. Tel: 08088 020 021

Katharine House Support

Ongoing Support from Katharine House Hospice

At Katharine House we continue to offer bereavement and spiritual support to family and friends of those who are grieving the death of someone who has been within our care. We can offer, face to face, telephone or online support, we can also signpost to other agencies that could offer help.We understand that each person has to deal with their bereavement in their own personal way.

Our help and support is available, whether this is in the first few weeks after the death, over a longer period of time, or later, or at a particular anniversary. If you or a member of your family feel you would like to talk to someone about any aspect of bereavement support, please contact us on 01785 270832