Bereavement due to traumatic death

Informal support from family and friends

Family and friends gave an enormous amount of support to people after the bereavement, and in some cases this informal support was the only support people wanted. However, bereavement can lead to tensions and disagreements within families. Most people we talked to had also used one of the many other sources of support (see our other ‘summaries’ about ‘Professional counselling’, ‘Support received from Charities’, and ‘Religion and spirituality’).
 
Some people said that they preferred to talk to others who had known the person who had died. Tamsin, for example, said she could more easily talk to people who knew how important her brother had been to her. It also helped Adam to talk to friends who had known his brother Lloyd. Cynthia found that meeting her daughter’s friends and flatmate for a regular meal helped because they remembered so much from her life.
A few people said that the knowledge that family would help if necessary, was all they needed. Support groups, or professional therapy, weren't what they wanted.
Pat was supported by family and friends as well as a Cruse counsellor. To keep herself busy she joined a knitting group and made new friends there. She found herself sitting next to another woman who had lost a son nine years earlier, and talking together helped both.
 
Dean's whole neighbourhood offered support after his son Andrew was killed. People they hardly knew introduced themselves and expressed their sympathy.
 
Sometimes the circumstances of the death meant that people got more support from friends than from family members. Shazia was only 13 years old when her friend was the victim of an ‘honour killing’. Her parents did not give her the support she needed but one of her school friends tried to fill the gap.
Support from outside the family can help if other members of the family are trying to cope with their own grief at the same time. Rachel didn't want to burden other members of the family with her problems; Ann felt that family members were not in a position to support each other. She found support from talking to others, such as those involved in Victims’ Voice.
Adam and his parents were devastated when Lloyd was murdered. After his traumatic death they were supported by friends and family members who brought cooked meals to the house. Adam said that the family really appreciated the meals and the thoughtfulness of friends who tried to help reduce the stress they were living with. Many others commented on the kindness of friends and colleagues who offered practical help, sent cards or flowers and planned new activities as support and distraction.

Last reviewed October 2015.

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