For the bereaved
When you lose someone you love, the emotions of grief may be powerful, even overwhelming. Yet everyone deals with grief differently and according to their own time schedule. Some people may find it useful to talk with someone. The GP is a good place to start. GPs can provide you with information about grief. They can also do a brief assessment to see if you might benefit from working with a trained mental health professional such as a grief counsellor or psychologist.
There are also plenty of high-quality online bereavement resources available to help you. This website lists a selection of them, alongside links to online and face-to-face services available to all South Australians.
Where to start
You may like to try the free MyGrief App. This tool asks you a series of questions and then provides you with tailored strategies for dealing with your bereavement challenges. Developed by the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement and available for use on Apple and Android mobile devices.
After someone dies, those closest to the person usually have a lot of practical matters to deal with. This can be challenging while dealing with grief. The following agencies have therefore provided easy-to-follow advice on matters such as notifying people, registering the death, and dealing with legal and financial matters, amongst others.
- Death and bereavement: Services Australia - Commonwealth Government information on payments, support, and services available to bereaved Australians. Offered in a range of languages.
- When someone dies - Practical Information for South Australian citizens from the State Government.
- Australian Death Notification Service - A service that lets you notify agencies, organisations, and institutions of the death, just the once, after you have received the death certificate.
- Compassionate and Bereavement Leave: Fair Work Ombudsman - Australian Government information on work leave entitlements when someone close to you dies.
- Practical matters: Arranging a funeral, legal matters, ashes and belongings (PDF 268KB) - Useful, short guide by HammondCare. (Some information specific to New South Wales.)
- After caring: CarerHelp - An online learning module for bereaved carers covering practical matters.
Looking after yourself
Grief is a normal human experience, but it can take time to work through. Here are a few basic things you can do to help yourself during the hard times.
- Always ask for help when you are struggling. Often family and friends feel uncertain what to say and do and will welcome an opportunity to do something for you that will make an actual difference.
- Don’t expect too much of yourself too soon. This including trying to make big life decisions. You can’t put a time limit on grief.
- You may find some joy in continuing to do the things you love such as hobbies, sports, or other leisure activities.
- Take care of your health by getting enough sleep, exercising, meditating, and keeping to a good diet.
If prolonged, grief can take its toll on physical and mental health. It can also affect your thinking, behaviour, beliefs, and relationships with others. These resources tell you what you might expect to experience during bereavement. They also list the signs that it may be time to seek support and advice from your GP.
- Healing After Loss (PDF 4.5MB)
- Bereavement: the first twelve months and beyond (PDF 920KB)
- Grief and loss
Finding someone to talk with
If you are feeling overwhelmed and distressed, your GP may suggest you work with a qualified mental health professional with experience in grief therapy. You may be given a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan which allows you to claim a Medicare rebate for up to 10 psychological sessions per calendar year. (Note: Currently extended to 20 sessions until 30 June 2022 as part of the Government’s pandemic support initiative.)
Your GP may refer you to a specific psychologist in your area or you may wish to find your own. You can do this using the Find a Psychologist online directory (Australian Psychological Society). Search by type of issue, area of practice and geographic area.
Information provided includes:
- Contact details
- A profile of each therapist including their therapeutic approaches
- Fees and/or Medicare rebate eligibility
- Telehealth availability.
Some palliative care services also provide bereavement support to family members after the death of a loved one. Contact the service to ask if this is the case.
Other forms of personal support
You may not need the services of a mental health professional but might still benefit from sharing with others going through a similar experience. There are a range of bereavement support groups available in both face-to-face and online mode. Some are listed here.
Online real-time support
- Griefline - provides free counselling from volunteers to anyone Australia-wide experiencing grief. Available every day of the year. The website also has evidence-based resources and online moderated forums for you to talk with others experiencing grief.
- Beyondblue: Grief and Loss - This reputable organisation is available to help with grief-related issues 24/7 via phone, online chat, or online forum.
- First Light Widowed Association - An online forum run by young widowed people for young widowed people. The website is also rich in information and has details on Camp Widow--a weekend conference/retreat ‘providing practical tools, valuable resources and peer-based encouragement.
- The Samaritans - Volunteer-led 24/7 phone support and online discussion forums available.
- National Dementia Helpline - Provides a counselling service to bereaved carers of people with dementia. Available via phone or video conferencing.
Face-to-face support in South Australia
- Solace Australia (SA Chapter) - A group for bereaved spouses/partners. Webpage lists latest contact details, meeting place and times.
- Carers SA - Provides free, short-term and in-person professional counselling to carers who are experiencing grief and loss as part of their caring role. This service is available in languages other than English.