The Importance of Self-Care when Working with the Dying or Bereaved

The Importance of Self-Care when Working with the Dying or Bereaved

The UK national Grief Awareness Week runs from the 2nd December… it offers us all a chance to look at the impact of grief, how to support those on their grief journey and reflect upon our own experiences.

Working in the world of death and dying means that others’ grief is something that we sit with and walk amongst on a daily basis; it can be raw and visceral, or dissociated and numb, it can permeate every second of someone’s day or be put in a box on a shelf to be looked into at a later date. There is no one way to grieve and no time limit upon the journey for those who mourn.


Supporting the bereaved can be the most touching and fulfilling experience, creating a space for sacred listening, for companionable silence, a time for creative outlet or physical activity. It can also be emotionally draining and can tap into losses and bereavements in our own lives. Whilst we look to be the support for others, we need to remain aware of our own needs and practice self care.

We would look to encourage family members to look after themselves and see the importance of them attending to their own needs but do we always remember to follow our own advice?

Grounding and centering as a starting point for our work offers the opportunity for connection to source, to feel ourselves linked to the energies of the earth and the stars. It means that we can align ourselves with the energies as a clear source for our work. When we work with the dying and the bereaved, we are amongst their energies and the challenges that they face; we can easily find ourselves trying to manage those energies as they muddle with our own.

When we finish working, we need to ensure that we leave without others’ energies or entities. Washing hands with the intention that nothing can be attached or remain with us, imagining a light shower washing over us, speaking out loud to affirm that nothing may remain with you that is not your own energy; these are all ways to support your energy and then on returning home, washing or showering, changing clothes and putting them in the wash. Lighting a candle and then blowing it out with the intention that the work for the day is over, lighting a sage bundle or incense to waft around yourself to clear the energies, again with the intention to remove any energies or entities, are all ways that you might begin your self care at the end of a working session. Similarly, mindfully brewing a tea or drink that you imbibe with the intention of restoring your energy stores and eating something healthy to ground you will be of benefit.

Self care might also involve talking about the challenges that you may have faced in your work or the personal issues that have been touched in you, by working with the dying person or the bereaved. Confidentiality is paramount and any supervision calls should be made with the tutors. It can be surprising how we can find ourselves touched or triggered by an issue that we weren’t expecting and talking it through helps to gain perspective and examine the issue in a safe space.

Taking time for ourselves is a facet of self care that can be a challenge! Looking after others does not preclude us from looking after ourselves. What brings you joy and peace? A walk in the forest or by the sea, artistic or creative activities, listening to or playing music, reading or playing a sport. Whatever allows you to step away from the needs of the caring role, to clear your mind and let go of the intensity of the situation is empowering and restorative.

Sunset by Sarah Weller

Be honest with yourself about what you do to make time for yourself and how you take care of yourself. It is often the case that those who care for others, don’t feel that they need to afford themselves the care that they bestow. The wisdom of the flight safety announcement that tells everyone to put on their own oxygen mask before helping others, is a reminder to us that we need to be cared for in order to care for others.


National Grief Awareness Week 2 – 9 December 2022



By Sarah Weller

Anneva – Priestess of Cerridwen

Sarah Weller - Death Priestess

I am blessed to work within my community as an end of life doula, a funeral ceremonialist/celebrant and as an undertaker working from my little farm- based funeral home – The Potager.

Sarah Weller PL.Dip.ST (BAST) Dip. GST (BAST)


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