What is grief?
Grief is a common and completely normal reaction to loss and bereavement and affects everyone differently.
Some symptoms of grief include:
- Shock and numbness
- Overwhelming sadness
- Tiredness or exhaustion
When should I seek help from a health professional?
You can access psychological therapies free on the NHS. These do not require a referral from your GP, however you do need to be registered with a GP to access talking therapies on the NHS. Find NHS psychological therapies in your area
The NHS suggests you should see a GP about how you’re feeling if:
- You’re struggling to cope with stress, anxiety or a low mood
- You’ve had a low mood for more than 2 weeks
- Things you’re trying yourself are not helping
- You would prefer to get a referral from a GP
If you feel you need more urgent help:
- Call your GP and ask for an urgent appointment
- Call 111 if you need help urgently, but it’s not an emergency
- If you need immediate help for you or someone else, and/or have seriously harmed yourself, call 999 or go to your nearest A&E
- Call one of the helplines listed at the bottom of this article
- Contact local mental health and counselling support services
COVID-19 and grief
Losing a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique challenges.
People who have lost someone to COVID-19 have been impacted in new and upsetting ways. For example, restrictions on visiting hospitals and care settings mean people may not have been able to spend time with their loved one before they passed.
Social distancing measures also mean people have not been able to access support networks in the same way as they would have done previously. This can worsen grief and make it harder to cope.
Hertfordshire County Council has created resources that might help: Coronavirus bereavement guides | Hertfordshire County Council.
Grief Support in Hertfordshire
The Anne Robson Trust Helpline is based in Hertfordshire and provides support to anyone who is struggling to cope with a terminal diagnosis, or the imminent death of someone they care about. It is often hard to talk about the emotions experienced in the weeks and days before the death of a loved one, so if you or someone close to you is dying, the helpline can offer support during what can be a very isolating time. The number is 0808 801 0688.
Stevenage Bereavement Support Group – Stevenage Vineyard holds drop-in sessions on the first Monday of every month for people who are recently bereaved to have a ‘safe place to share grief’.
Cruse Bereavement Care Hertfordshire offers face-to-face, telephone, email or group session support for adults in Hertfordshire. Helplines - Adult 01707 278389 / Children and Young People 01707 264293 / National 0808 808 1677.
Carers Bereavement Support run two bereavement support groups for carers who have been bereaved in the past three years (group sessions are currently paused due to COVID-19 restrictions, but telephone support is still available). The charity hopes to resume group sessions in 2022.
Bereavement support - Talk-in-Herts Counselling Services CIC is a service for individuals, couples, families and groups, either online or face-to-face.
Bereaved through suicide services
Being bereaved through suicide is a particularly traumatic and upsetting experience but there is plenty of support for you.
NHS ‘Help Is At Hand’ resources provide lots of information and advice for people who have been bereaved through suicide.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) is a national charity with local support groups. Contact details for the groups in Hertfordshire are:
Support for children or young people
Child Bereavement UK offers a range of support for children and young people who have been bereaved, or for people of any age who have lost a child or young person. Support is via telephone, video or instant message, as well as face-to-face in the form of individual and group support sessions.
Stand-by-me (Hertfordshire) offers information, advice and support to help children, young people and their families living in North Hertfordshire and Stevenage to understand and manage their grief. Stand-by-me offers a group programme, run over 6 sessions, where children and young people can explore the feelings and emotions associated with bereavement and grief in a safe space.
Cruse Bereavement Care Hertfordshire has family workshop days and one-to-one support for bereaved children.
Samaritans: 116 123
Anne Robson Trust: 0808 801 0688
Cruse: 01707 278389
Child Bereavement UK helpline: 0800 028 8840