The Good Grief Trust — Bringing help and hope

Linda Magistris, Good Grief Trust

Four minute read

When Linda’s partner Graham died , she felt alone in her grief. Determined that no other bereaved person should miss out on the support they need, Linda set up the Good Grief Trust to provide help and hope in one place.

The best ideas are often the most obvious. The ones that you can’t believe that no one has thought of before. The Good Grief Trust is one of these ideas.

When Linda looked for information and support after her partner died, it wasn’t there when she needed it.

“I didn’t understand why it didn’t exist,” she says. “It was completely jaw dropping. Why didn’t we know what was happening down the road, when there was someone there ready to offer support? I felt totally alone. I didn’t know where to turn, practically or emotionally. There was nothing.”

The Good Grief Trust seeks to fill this gap. Linda explains, “Many organisations, rightly, specialise in one thing — offering the best possible support service. At the Good Grief Trust, we focus on the bigger picture, bringing everyone together in one place, so everyone can find what they need. It’s hard work, but it’s not rocket science.”

Providing a choice of quality support

Today, the Trust’s website is a one-stop-shop for grieving people. It’s up-to-date, comprehensive, easy to access and signposts over 900 specialist organisations that offer bereavement support free of charge.

Find a support organisation near you on the Good Grief Trust map

“Our list of organisations is growing all the time,” says Linda. “People need a choice of support, and they need quality support. We want to make sure everyone gets the best possible support, but we don’t know what each individual needs.

"It’s important that people know that help is there from day one, even if they don’t want it yet. No one should be left feeling like they are in a fog — it should be simple where to go.

“It’s also so important that we share stories from bereaved people and from health professionals. Our website is full of nuggets of advice and guidance. Whatever your experience, your story can be someone else’s hope.”

Reaching out to all who need it

As well as the website itself, the Good Grief Trust supplies cards for hospitals, schools, universities, hospices, bereavement teams, funeral directors and others to give to bereaved people. These are a condolence card and a signposting tool.

Linda explains: “It’s hard for individual organisations to keep their websites or printed material up to date. The card is something tangible that you can hand to someone. It signposts to our website which is constantly kept up to date. You can add an extra, personal note on the card as well.

“There’s a credit-card-sized section that you can pop out and put in your wallet, give to friends or family or keep for yourself. Everywhere you go, it’s there as a little piece of security. Our dream is that it gets to everyone who needs it. Our branding is also hopeful, not in the usual dark colours.”

Order Good Grief Trust cards

National Grief Awareness week, illustration of woman in sunglasses, blue text on yellow background saying 'Just because I'm not smiling doesn't mean I'm not grieving'

Dispelling myths about grief

Linda and her team are also passionate about dispelling some of the myths and assumptions that exist around grief. The Trust created and organises National Grief Awareness Week each December and uses bold colours and simple statements to open up conversations and encourage people to think differently about grief.

“There are a lot of assumptions,” says Linda. “Timeline is a big one. Friends have said things to me like, ‘It’s been a year, can’t you move on with your life?’ Unfortunately, we know many bereaved people hear this from friends.

"But the second or the third year of grieving can be even harder than the first. You can feel like you are going forward, and then go back again. We want to open up the conversation to let people know, whatever you are feeling, that’s okay.

“Another one we hear a lot is that ‘you can’t be grieving if you’re smiling’. People feel laughing or smiling is the wrong thing to do, but it’s normal even very early on.

"You can find laughter at a funeral, as well as sadness. When you remember stories about the person you love who has died, it can be wonderful and a real comfort. This is normal and many people experience this.”

Download and share Grief Awareness Week graphics

A community of bereaved people

“We want to normalise grief. So much has been medicalised about this normal and natural process. When someone dies, they are often taken away and you never see them again. How many people miss the opportunity to bring someone home or to say goodbye?

"I know this is something that Poppy’s and other forward-thinking funeral directors are trying to change. I hope, like Poppy’s, we’ve helped to break down some of these myths and taboos.”

The Good Grief Trust is involved with multiple projects — from Pop-Up Grief Cafes to convening a parliamentary group of MPs, peers and interested parties — but, at its heart, it has one simple aim.

“I would say that the Good Grief Trust is a community of bereaved people for bereaved people,” says Linda. “It’s not just a website or a card or a café, it’s a huge community of people who are grieving, and those working with the bereaved, supporting each other.

"Our aim is to bring people together, to work together, to share all we are doing and to raise awareness. The top line is making sure bereaved people do not feel alone.”

Read more interviews on our Talking Death blog — hear from Mark about grief and bereavement support for men or from therapist Julia Samuel about grieving.

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