Would you contact a French based bereavement helpline?

Hi there,
I have a general question. Since moving to France in 2017, I’ve noticed that although there is a vast range of associations that help people in a number of areas, when it comes to bereavement, there seems to be very little, especially if you prefer to converse in English. I wonder, would you consider phoning a bereavement support line (in France) with English speakers and if so, what would you consider to be a worthwhile service i.e. hours of operation, cost (if any), the type of support offered, level of confidentiality and anonymity? Any other suggestions? Feel free to voice your suggestions, thoughts, concerns. I look forward to receiving your comments.

The Chaplaincy of Aquitaine offers support - in English.

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Hi SuePJ,
Thanks for your comment but I guess that’s connected to a church right? Is the support face to face, is it anonymous? I’m just wondering for those who don’t have a faith as such, or who aren’t mobile, what other options are there?


Open between 07:00 and 23:00

Landline: ++33 (0) 4 94 84 64 89 (FR)

Mobile: ++33 (0) 6 24 50 22 74 (FR)

email: info@bsnvar.org

The Bereavement Support Network exists to promote the well-being of any English speaking residents in France who are bereaved, and to enable them to understand their grief and cope with their loss. The charity also helps the terminally ill and their carers.


Tel: ++33 (0) 5 53 24 92 38

email: France.branch@ssafa.org.uk

SSAFA exists to relieve the need, suffering. distress etc amongst Armed Forces and their families.


SOS-HELP on 01 46 21 46 46
3pm – 11pm 7 days a week



Personally, I do not think that I would need the services of a bereavement helpline as it is something for which I have previously prepared.
What I do think would be useful is an association or helpline that encourages people to prepare for the fact that their spouse or partner may well predecease them. Let’s face it, death comes to us all, and so for those of us with partners there is a 50/50 chance that we may be left on our own.
I believe that we should all prepare for this scenario, and ask ourselves such things as where we would wish to continue living, what our financial situation would be, who would we need to contact and how to go about that, together with the necessary actions we would need to take with officialdom.
I think that we should even break the ‘taboo’ and actually discuss these things with our partners so that we know what their end of life wishes are.
Bereavement is of course stressful, but it is so much easier if one has prepared in advance and thought about the various emotions that can be expected to occur at different times following our partner’s passing.
Counselling after the event will always have its place, but planning before the event will make everything a great deal easier.


Assurance obsèques, like that proposed by CA is an option. I don’t know whether they can provide assistance in English.

  • Un capital garanti pour couvrir tout ou partie de vos frais d’obsèques. Vous êtes libre de choisir le montant entre 2 500 et 10 000 euros en fonction de vos volontés

  • Une assistance obsèques avec des experts funéraires pour vous accompagner dans la préparation de vos obsèques et soutenir vos proches le moment venu (en option)

Thanks for the info, the Bereavement Support Network is similar to what I was thinking of.

Hi Robert,
I agree with you about the possibility of planning for the passing of a partner and being able to talk openly about it before the event but as we all know grief has no set structure or boundaries and even in those sitatuations where we know that a loved one is going to die, sometimes the émotions that we feel are not what we anticipated. From my expérience, it’s not the initial few weeks after the passing of a loved one that proves to be testing, it’s later on that people struggle because they find it hard to adapt to the loss. Unfortuntately, there are some things that we can never plan for and I’m please to see that there is some kind of national helpline available in France which can support those when they need it most.

Maybe I am missing something but if an English speaker needs emotional support and wishes to speak to a trained English speaking counsellor, is there any reason why they cannot phone a counselling service in the UK? I am assuming that calls to the UK are still included in most telecom subscriptions, I may be wrong on that.


Most telecom forfaits available from the mainstream networks sneakily dumped free UK and EU calls around January 2021.

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Ah I did not know.
I just checked and calls to EU and UK landlines still seem to be included on Free, I wonder for how long, although in fact we very seldom use the landline.

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I was about to mention that my computer line allows me to make calls to UK and more or less all over the world for nothing… :+1: :+1:

Um, I’m not sure either, Brexit has changed the telecom market with Europe and aside from that, a national helpline normally also provides details of local services to help with financing a funeral, such like. It’s not just about providing emotional support but also connecting callers to other relevant organisations or associations that someone may not be aware of.

If you think that planning before a bereavement will help you, think again.
No one really knows just how they will be affected and it throws up all sort of previously unaddressed or pushed out of the way emotions.
People can even feel a problem if they are not affected by what they think they should be supposed to be feeling.
Not all family relationships are ideal.


I agree Jane, bereavement is a complicated mix of emotions that change from day to day or even hour to hour depending on the person and it’s also a very personal thing, everyone deals with stressful situations differently. I think some people might feel they are ‘prepared’ for losing someone but that doesn’t always equate with the intensity and range of emotions that we subsequently experience and which take us by surprise.

Yes of course there are two strands to it, the practical and the emotional, and people may need help with one or the other or both. I did specifically say that I was thinking of the emotional aspect because I was picking up on the comment

I agree with that comment because when bereavement occurs there tend to be outpourings of sympathy and lots of offers of support. It is the “moving on” that can be difficult, when the funeral is over and everything is being settled and friends and more distant relatives have resumed their normal lives, and you are on your own coming to terms with your changed life without the loved one. It is not about advice or practical support but sometimes it helps just to talk to a stranger and to feel that they understand.


Just to be clear, I am not saying that forward planning prevents personal mourning and grief, as clearly that will always be present.
What I do know however, is that the aftermath of bereavement is not exactly the ideal time to have to sort out practical matters such as those relating to finances and housing for example.
After the immediate period of mourning, then there is the time of adjustment to ongoing life.
I venture to suggest that in the case of a deceased spouse or partner, going forward with life is so much easier if a person knows what the deceased would wish them to do in those circumstances.
Forward planning is in great part about talking it through before the event happens so that you know what your partner would wish you to do in the event that they predecease you.
I have lost count of the number of close relatives of the deceased that I have had to deal with over the years who didn’t even know if their loved one wanted to be buried or cremated.
My experience is that folks are already sufficiently personally distressed that they really should not be having to sort out questions such as “What will I do for money ?” or “Will I be able to stay on in this rented flat ?”
Forward planning does not prevent personal grief, but it certainly makes dealing with it very much easier.
I would urge everyone who has a spouse or partner to talk it over. Recognise that there will be many emotions that come to the fore including such things as anger, guilt, and sometimes even relief. Find out what your partner would want you to do, and tell them what you would like them to do with the remainder of their life if you predecease them.
It will not be the remedy for all ills, but it really will help you to cope with the situation.

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