Grief Companion Training

This course is now being run on Zoom. Find out more and register your interest in taking part in the next course here 


Many of us would like to support of people who have experienced loss but we are not sure the best way to go about it. This training is designed to equip adults who want to give informal support to those who are bereaved. It offers perspectives and practical ideas for coping with grief. It is based upon the idea of being a “companion of grief” who will walk alongside the mourner as they adjust to the changed circumstances of their life.

Rationale behind the training

The training is built on three underlying concepts:

  • Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. In order to grieve in a healthy way we need to both spend time in grieving for the person, as well as continue to live and to function. Healthy grief is not about working through a linear process that ends with “moving on” (detachment theory). Rather, when a loved one dies the mourner slowly finds ways to adjust and redefine their relationship with that person, allowing for a continued bond that will endure. (See Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief, Klass 1996 and The British Psychological Society:
  • This training is not formal counselling training. However, it builds implicitly on the person centred therapy model developed by psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers in the 1940s, and on the basis of the core conditions he described of empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard.

Aims and objectives

Participants will:

  • Gain a greater understanding of grief and the impact of loss in a person’s life.
  • Learn about current thinking on models of recovery from grief.
  • Develop skills to enable them to engage effectively with the bereaved.
  • Explore some of the key issues faced by the bereaved.

Delivery of training

  • Sessions will be interactive, and delivered using audio-visual and Powerpoint presentations, with opportunities for discussion and questions.
  • There will be worksheets and other activities throughout the sessions.
  • Participants will engage with each other in pairs and small groups.
  • Participants will have opportunities for personal reflection.
  • Reference materials for further reading and study will be provided.

Assessment and validation

  • Participants will self-assess through guided reflection.
  • A certificate of participation will be awarded.
  • This is an informal training course and does not provide a formal qualification.


  • This course is designed for adults, of any age.
  • This training is ideal for anyone who wants to be a better support to their friends, family members or colleagues (adults, rather than children or teenagers) who are bereaved.
  • This could be a helpful taster for someone who is considering volunteering or going on to formal training in a bereavement setting.
  • It is suitable for community and educational organisations, clubs and charities that offer short training courses.
  • An adapted version of this training, with additional faith-based elements, can be delivered to churches and faith groups. This is ideal for creating bereavement awareness and improving peer support amongst members.

Duration and size

  • 12 – 15 hours total, although an abbreviated training is also possible.
  • Delivery can be adapted. Possibilities include a weekend, or 4 x half day seminars, or 6 x 2 hour classes.
  • It is expected that the participant group would consist of 6 – 24 people.

Trainer and developer

This training course has been developed by Abi May, a teacher, retreat leader and author with 35 years experience. Her qualifications include a PGCE (DTLLS) for Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector.

Abi is a doubly bereaved mother, and her own experiences have helped inform her work on bereavement, including her book “A Valley Journal” (published 2014 by Onwards and Upwards Publishers). She runs “living with loss” retreats to support the bereaved. In addition, she leads the publications committee of The Compassionate Friends UK (a national charity supporting bereaved parents and siblings).