Dealing with bereavement

Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes. But whilst we tend to be quite good at grumbling about tax, death and dealing with bereavement is something it can feel harder to talk about.

We know intellectually that death is a part of life, and at some point or another, we will all face losing someone we love. But many of us don’t like to think of it, and find it hard to talk about it when it does happen. 

Help for those dealing with loss.

Losing someone is never easy, but often, dealing with bereavement, with the help of friends and family, we get through it.  Sometimes however, the impact of bereavement can feel overwhelming, and it can feel like there’s nowhere to turn. 

Cruse Bereavement Care is a national charity offering support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies and to enhance society's care of people dealing with bereavement. 

Our services are free of charge and support anyone who has been bereaved wherever or however the death has occurred.  Cruses' services are available over the phone, online and face to face, ensuring that we are somewhere to turn when someone dies.

The death of someone close is often devastating. At Cruse Bereavement Care we passionately believe that people dealing with bereavement deserve care to help them re-build their lives.

Last year our 6,000 volunteers responded to nearly 100,000 requests for support after a death. We know that nothing takes away the pain of loss, but we also know that talking about it can help.

We all grieve differently

There’s a lot of misapprehension about grief. Many people assume that because they've been through it, they know all about it. But everyone grieves differently. Some people feel numb. They expect to cry but don’t.

Family members may remark how well they’re doing, or mutter that they are not showing proper respect to the dead. It can feel hard to explain. But this is a common grief reaction. Other people feel swamped with sadness, unable to face the day. Other people wonder why they can’t pull themselves together, or ‘get on with it’. Again, this is quite normal. 

Dos and Don’ts for supporting someone who has been bereaved


  • Be there for the person who is grieving - pick up the phone, write a letter or an email, call by or arrange to visit.
  • Accept that everyone grieves in their own way, there is no 'normal' way.
  • Encourage the person to talk.
  • Listen to the person.
  • Create an environment in which the bereaved person can be themselves and show their feelings, rather than having to put on a front.
  • Be aware that grief can take a long time.
  • Contact the person at difficult times such as special anniversaries and birthdays.
  • Mention useful support agencies such as Cruse.
  • Offer useful practical help.


  • Avoid someone who has been bereaved.
  • Use clichés such as 'I understand how you feel'; 'You'll get over it ; 'Time heals'.
  • Tell them it's time to move on, they should be over it - how long a person needs to grieve is entirely individual.
  • Be alarmed if the bereaved person doesn’t want to talk or demonstrates anger.
  • Underestimate how emotionally draining it can be when supporting a grieving person. Make sure you take care of yourself too.

Our volunteers don't judge

Cruse understands that when dealing with bereavement everyone’s grief is unique, and that it will vary over time, and change depending on all sorts of different factors. Our volunteers don’t judge, and they don’t make assumptions. They provide a supportive listening ear to help people through one of the hardest things many of us will have to face.

How to contact us

Our helpline is open from 9.30-5pm on weekdays, with extended opening until 8pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Our friendly team are here to offer you support when as and when people need it. You can call on 0844 779400. 

The Cruse website has recently re-launched, and can be found at There you’ll find information about your local bereavement service, the support we can offer and our leaflets and booklets some of which are free to download. These explain some of the most common reactions to bereavement, and some of the small things that can sometimes help. 

If you decide you’d like to speak with one of our volunteers face-to-face, both the website and the helpline will be able to help you find your local Cruse service. Local services offer support groups and friendship groups, as well as one-to-one bereavement support. Some are able to offer home visits, if this feels appropriate for you.

Cruse provides services free, but we do rely on donations, grants and trusts to fund our work. If you would like to make a donation to support our work, please click here.

For more information about Cruse and the services we offer, please see our website You can also follow us on twitter @crusecare or on Facebook. 

If you found dealing with bereavement helpful return to health and wellbeing for more helpful pages.