Training Description-Abi May

Training Description



Supporting those living with loss



Aims and objectives of "Companion of Grief" training

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.

Who this is for

  • 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 9 – 24 people.
  • This is a non-profit venture, however a small per-head charge will be expected to cover expenses. This will vary depending on the length of the training, but could be from £10-£30. On average the cost per person is about £2.50 per hour of training, so that a 12 hour course would be £30 per head. 
  • Depending on location, travel expenses may also be needed. 

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), and sits on the Management Board of Healthwatch Stoke-on-Trent.



  • What we are trying to achieve when we companion a mourner through their grief
  • Understanding the "normal" experience of grief
  • Appreciating that death brings practical challenges to those who remain, not only emotional
  • The goals of mourning and models of recovery. 
  • Stages of grief or a roller-coaster ride? 
  • The time zones of grief
  • A non-judgemental approach
  • The seven tasks of a Grief Companion and how practically to achieve them
  • Supporting the mourner through the common issues faced by the bereaved
  • Signposting
  • Recognising abnormal grief 
  • Getting started on supporting others 


Additional highlights for faith-based groups

  • Grief and the person of faith
  • Grief as a natural reaction to loss, "even" for the Christian
  • Struggles with faith following bereavement and other personal difficulties
  • ​​​​​​​Loss and grief in the Bible
  • Finding comfort and hope

For more information or any questions, please contact me.