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It can be very difficult if the person you care for dies.  As well as having to cope with your grief you may feel a bit lost now that you are no longer busy helping them.

When you are first bereaved you may be overwhelmed by your emotions, or you may have a natural tendency to avoid your feelings and react in a more controlled way to your loss. 

Coping with your grief will mean trying to find a balance between your emotions and managing practical day to day life. This can be especially hard if you are dealing with other pressures such as; caring for young children; dealing with financial, employment or housing worries; or facing physical or mental health issues of your own.

Bereavement brings a number of different losses:

  • The loss of the person and the relationship you had with them; 
  • The loss of the role you had as carer and the purpose and identity this gave you;
  • The loss of, or disconnection from, some the things you may have given up or lost whilst you were a carer. This could include losing touch with friends or work. 

Some of these losses may seem greater if you have been a carer for a long time.

Dealing with other people’s grief

When the person you care for dies you may feel that other people don’t have as much reason to grieve as you, but family and friends will feel the loss too. It can be difficult when people around you react and cope with loss in different ways but there are no right and wrong ways to grieve.

If you do cope with loss differently from the people around you try to be patient, and talk to them about these differences if you can. 

Being resilient and coping well

Coping well (being resilient) is not about forgetting the person you have lost or the pain of grief going away. It is about finding a way to live with the loss, and adjust to the changes this has brought. 

Don’t isolate yourself 

The support you get from your family, friends and neighbours may help you find new meaning in this life changing experience you have had. Make sure you talk to people and don’t cut yourself off. 

Your friends and family probably want to support you but may not know how to do this. Try to accept help when it is offered, even if this is just enjoying a meal that someone else has made for you. 

Local support and online support

If you are already part of a local carer group carry on going and talk to them about how you are feeling if you can. There may also be a local groups for former carers that you may find supportive. Many local carer services will continue to help you after you stop caring, particularly whilst you are adjusting. 

You may also be able to find support online. Our online communities offer 24-hour support, every day of the year, from our online services for carers. Carers Trust online services are open to all carers, wherever you live in the UK and whatever your age.  Babble is for young carers under 18, Matter is for young adult carers aged 16 to 25, and Carers Space is for adult carers.

If you need additional support then there is specialist help available, including specialist support for children. 

Children and bereavement

There is specialist help available for children and young people coping with bereavement. 

  • Child Bereavement UK has loads of online information for young people who've lost someone close.
  • Winston's Wish offer practical support and guidance to bereaved children, their families and professionals.
  • Cruse supports children and young people.

If you are worried that a child is not coping with grief talk to their GP about getting them suitable support.

Organisations offering bereavement support

There are organisations that may be able to help you with practical information, support groups or one-to-one care. In a few cases you may be able to have counselling:

  • Bereavement Advice Centre has a free helpline and web-based in formation about what to do when someone dies. This includes information about coping with grief.
  • Cruse (Cruse Bereavement Care) supports you after the death of someone close. If you need to talk to them you can call 0808 808 1677 or email: helpline@cruse.org.uk. They also offer face to face and group support in local branches across the UK. 
  • Dying Matters helps people in England and Wales to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life
  • Widowed and young (WAY) supports men and women aged 50 or under when their partner died.
  • Sue Ryder Online Community - terminal illness and bereavement support. A safe and supportive online forum for anyone facing the death of a loved one to share experiences and support each other.
  • Macmillan have a wide range of advice for carers about bereavement.  This includes information about how grief might affect you, picking up your life again, and celebrating the life of your loved one.
  • NHS Choices offers support about coping with bereavement.

You can also talk to your GP about how you are feeling, particularly if you feel you aren’t coping. They will be able to offer you advice and support.

Practical advice

Thanks to Dr Linda Machin (Honorary Research Fellow in the Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences at Keele University) for helping us write this page.