Helping people handle grief is a topic close to the heart of Dr Katherine Joekes, Head of Clinical Communication at St George’s. As well as training future doctors to deliver bad news, she also dedicates her Thursday afternoons to helping bereaved people cope with their loss through her work with the charity Cruse Bereavement Care (Cruse).


calendar-icon 6 December 2017

Cruse trains people to become bereavement volunteers, and offers support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies.

On UK Charity Week (4-10 December 2017), Katherine explains why she dedicates her time to volunteering with Cruse.

“I have volunteered with Cruse for three years and I work there every Thursday. My clients tend to be people who are stuck in their grief or who have no one else to turn to.

“Grief seems to be a difficult subject for people in this country to talk about. Many people who are grieving feel quite lonely, particularly if those around them don’t know what to say to them. There often can be the expectation that after three to six months, people who are bereaved ‘should’ have recovered.

“It’s a complex issue and many people feel unable to turn to their family or friends for the support they need, or they just want to speak to someone outside of that scenario.

“In my role at St George’s, I contribute to training students in how to deliver bad news to patients, and some of the skills we talk about with students are transferable to the work I do at Cruse. I have always had a strong connection to being able to talk about death and grief and hope I am able to support others in talking about it.”