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Bereavement Support

  • Sue Morris, PsyD
  • Most of us will experience grief at some point in our lives following the death of a loved one. While grief is made up of intense emotional and physical reactions that are characterized by deep sadness and a yearning to be with that person again, how we react will be different for each of us because grief is unique.

    Unfortunately, Western society isn't very good at dealing with grief. We tend to want a quick fix. But grief doesn't work in this way; there are no timetables or set rules to follow.

    If you are dealing with the death of a loved one, grief can be a very lonely and isolating experience. Working out what you need to do to help yourself during this time is important.

    People who are grieving need to be able to:

    • Tell their story
    • Seek support from family, friends or community groups
    • Look after their physical and mental health because grief is a major stressor
    • Give themselves permission to grieve
    • Find ways to regain a sense of control in their lives
    • Adapt to life without their loved one

    Bereavement Program

    The Bereavement Program at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center, part of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, provides support to bereaved family members and friends following the death of a patient. Bereavement support comes in a variety of forms including:

    • Information about grief and what to expect
    • Seminars about dealing with grief
    • Support groups
    • Individual visits to review coping and discuss available options
    • Memorial services

    Read our Insight blog for information and inspiration about bereavement support at Dana-Farber.

    Online resources

    There are a lot of bereavement resources available online. You may find the following websites about dealing with grief helpful.

    Caring Connections
    This national consumer and community engagement initiative to improve care at the end of life is a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization

    The Children's Room
    The Children's Room helps grieving children, teens, and families to go on living fully. Serving families throughout Massachusetts, they educate teachers, counselors, youth workers, and other professionals about how children and teens grieve.

    The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families
    The Dougy Center provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences.


  • Janet Lee's husband, Don, was a patient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before his death. In this video, Janet shares her experience with grief and how Dana-Farber's Bereavement Program has provided support.


  • Rosemary Maconchie's husband, Jim, was a patient at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before his death. In this video, Rosemary shares her experience with grief and how Dana-Farber's Bereavement Program has provided support.

  • We're here to help

    What Is Grief?

    Find out more about the grief process, and explore resources and tips to help you cope within the first year.

    When Grief is New

    This guide to the grief process provides practical information and strategies for family members and friends who are coping with the loss of a loved one.

    Online Bereavement Community

    Dana-Farber offers a private, online support community for bereaved family members and friends. By joining the community, you may benefit from the comfort and wisdom of others. To join, please email bereavement_program@dfci.harvard.edu or call 617-632-2490.