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Dealing with loss and bereavement as a carer

Mark Topps discusses grief following the passing of a client and the different types of bereavement support you can access to help process the loss.

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Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager
Published on:
28/1/2022
· Last Edited On:
9/6/2022
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8-minute read

Part of our ‘Let’s talk about…’ mental health and wellbeing series

This blog follows on from my post about ‘How to support clients at the end of their lives‘.

I recently had a conversation with a registered manager who lost a client close to her. We talked about how she’s been coping and it really hit me how important it is to speak about bereavement, to get a better understanding of what grief is, how we can deal with loss and what support is available for carers.

What is grief?

Grief is a mixture of emotions and feelings that follow a loss, which in social care, is typically the death of a client or service user.

If you’re grieving, you’ll feel a mixture of emotions, which include:

  • Confusion
  • Anger
  • Disbelief
  • Numbness
  • Worry
  • Guilt
  • Feeling overwhelmed.

You might find talking about grief easy or you’d prefer not to speak about it at all. You might simply not know how you’re feeling and that’s nothing to be ashamed about – we all cope with loss and bereavement in different ways.

If you’re not sure how you’re feeling, there’s a great tool that NHS has developed that can help you navigate your way through this.

The 5 stages of grief

The grieving process has 5 key stages:

  • Denial
    Feeling numb and refusing to accept that a client has passed away.
  • Anger
    Blaming yourself or someone else whilst trying to find answers to questions you’re asking.
  • Bargaining
    Offering something to change what’s happened and considering ‘what if?’.
  • Depression
    Sadness and longing for what you’ve lost, that comes in waves.
  • Acceptance
    The gradual understanding that the passing of a client can’t be changed but we can hold onto the memories we share of that person.

Once you begin to accept what’s happened, you can start to seek support and comfort from others.

Reaching out for bereavement support

There are several ways to cope with grief and the pain it brings, which in time will allow you to come to terms with the loss of clients.

However, there’s not a one size fits all model and everyone goes through the stages of grief at different times, so you may find that you need to mix and match support options that suit your needs best.

Choosing the right type of support for you

I spoke to Macmillan Cancer Support to find out more about what’s on offer and they said many people find solace in:

  • Family and friends
  • Support groups
  • Organisations and charities
  • Therapists and counsellors
  • Religion
  • Keeping a daily diary
  • Meditation
  • Social media groups.

Distraction techniques, such as undertaking a hobby, can help, but eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and looking after your physical health is key.

“If you’re grieving and struggling to cope, please don’t be afraid to seek support.”

Accessing support

There’s a lot of dedicated bereavement support available for carers and support workers, including:

  • Mental Health at Work
    A wellbeing toolkit with details about telephone services, websites and guides.
  • GOV.UK
    An online resource that details different support organisations you can reach out to.

There are also a host of general bereavement and mental health resources you can access:

  • AtaLoss
    A signposting tool that connects you with local services and support information.
  • Cruse Bereavement
    The UK’s leading bereavement charity offering support to those who’ve lost somebody.
  • Dying Matters – Hospice UK
    Aimed at supporting people to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement.
  • Samaritans
    A free, confidential support line that includes bereavement and mental health.
  • Stay Alive App
    Designed to support those considering suicide.

Take the first steps

If you’re grieving and struggling to cope, please don’t be afraid to seek support.

If you know of a friend or colleague who’s grieving, start a conversation with them or point them in the direction of some of the resources above – it might just be what they need to help get them through this difficult time.

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