Welcome to the Families and Friends in Bereavement site

What this resource is about

The word family means different things to different people and can include not only relatives but friends, neighbours and any others who are important. This resource is to help all those included in your ‘family’ talk and share grief together.

The Family and Friends in Bereavement resource offers a unique focus on the grief experience of the family rather than the individual. Bereavement can be difficult, especially knowing how to start and continue conversations, when you are all experiencing and reacting to loss differently.

  • We encourage users of this resource to concentrate on family strengths and offer suggestions for things to try that might help you talk together about the effect of the death, make sense of what has happened, and identify potential sources of support to manage bereavement.

The resource is designed to complement existing bereavement support services. It is, however, designed to bridge an existing gap in support that became clear during the social restrictions of COVID-19. We know that:

  • In ‘usual’ times most people manage bereavement with the help of family, friends, and those in their social circle.
  • During COVID-19 this was restricted, social distancing and limitations prevented support provided through families and friends coming together. This made it difficult for people to make sense of what had happened and gain support. Although the resource has been developed during the restrictions of COVID-19 the content is designed to have continuing relevance beyond this context.

What this resource doesn’t offer

If you are looking for help with specific bereavement types such as; the loss of a child, spouse or parent; talking to children about bereavement; complicated grief; or connecting with others through an interactive forum such as a chat room or peer support, please see websites listed in our further information and support page.

SOME THINGS TO TRY

Take a moment to think about who else has experienced this loss.

  • How are they coping?
  • How could you help them?
  • How could they help you?

Some people find it helpful to think about this visually. Click on a name to view some examples which may be useful to get you started.

Sharing Memories

Sharing memories, thoughts, feelings, and objects can help families create meaning together.

  • Is there a photograph, letter, piece of music, poetry, art, or story that you can use to share your recollections together?
  • What are your favourite anecdotes? Ask others for theirs.
  • Is there something you could do together – an adventure you had always planned or a charity event? Do you want to plan a celebratory event?
  • Do you want to create an online memorial? An example can be found at www.muchloved.com where digital pages can be created free of charge and shared for as long as you wish.

Questions to Help Families Talk Together

The questions below are intended as a starting point to help families talk together about the impact of the death, make sense of what happened, and identify resources and different forms of support that may be available. It could be helpful to revisit these questions from time to time.

  • Have you talked about the death itself? If you have what was challenging? What went well? If you haven’t, is there a reason for this?
  • Have you talked to any health and care workers if they were involved? Has anyone in the family had any feedback that has helped?
  • Have you talked with funeral directors or faith leaders? Has anyone in the family had any discussions with them that have helped?

  • What did the person who has died mean to you?
  • What do you miss most about them? Is there anything you won’t miss?
  • What will you always remember about them?
  • Are you able to express your emotions at this time e.g. guilt at feeling relieved, anger?
  • What are you finding hardest? Is there anything that helps with this?
  • How has the bereavement led to relationship changes between family members/friends e.g. taking on different roles, changes in emotional connection?
  • Has the bereavement led to additional losses e.g. having to move house?
  • If they were sitting next to you what would you want to say to them, and why? Is there anything you wished you had or had not said, and why?

  • How can you help each other? What are the different strengths of family members/friends that could be used now?
  • Have you or other family members/friends taken on new or changed roles?
  • What other sources of support could you draw on as a family?
  • Are you keeping to usual family routines, or have you created new ones e.g. around anniversaries and holidays?
  • How do you want others to talk and be with you?