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Grief Awareness Week: Legal partnership with Widowed and Young provides our clients with invaluable support while steering them through litigation

As lawyers, we see first-hand the devastation families face following a bereavement. 

An unexpected or traumatic death can leave our clients feeling shaken, unsure and vulnerable, their lives torn apart in an instant. In addition to the primary loss of a loved one, our clients may experience concurrent crises and multiple secondary losses: lost income, loss of a home, loss of employment, loss of social status and loss of their social circle. 

Their grief may be amplified by feelings of anger and blame where the death has been caused – or is perceived to have been caused - by the actions of others. 

Once close-knit family relationships can disintegrate, descending into bitter disputes around finances, property, business interests or contact with children. 

The death may be the subject of an inquest, involving days or weeks of court attendance and questioning. There is often unfinished business which the surviving family members need to handle, including an array of legal and financial matters, all whilst navigating the spiral of grief. 

The challenges of advising clients

The consequences and complications of grief bring additional challenges when advising clients throughout litigation. We are often contacted within days of a death, when the shock and trauma of the loss is searingly raw. 

Lawyers are not trained to deal with grief and yet we encounter grieving clients on a daily basis. It is essential that we develop the right skills, knowledge and insight into the effects of grief in order to provide compassionate expertise and a holistic service to our clients. 

This is the time when our clients need support, understanding and listening ears the most and this is where the ability to signpost clients to organisations providing specialist support is invaluable. 

Losing a partner at any age is horrific. Losing a young partner can throw your life into turmoil. You may have young children to take care of and support through their own grief. You may be part of the LBGTQIA+ community and experience isolation and prejudice in the face of your grief, possibly being excluded from funeral arrangements. You do not fit the stereotype of “a widow(er)”. 

Our work with specialist charities to support our clients

Widowed and Young (WAY) is the UK’s only national charity for anyone who has lost a partner before their 51st birthday – married or not, with or without children, whatever their sexual orientation. It can offer our clients access to a large network of volunteers who have themselves been bereaved at a young age and who can provide peer-to-peer support as they adjust to life after the death of their partner. 

Launch of Widowed and Young legal partnership

This Grief Awareness Week Irwin Mitchell has launched its legal partnership with WAY.  This enables us to signpost clients to invaluable emotional and practical support whilst we steer them through the litigation process. 

In turn, as a full-service firm, we can offer WAY members support and advice on all areas of law via a dedicated service helpline. 

We also look forward to working alongside WAY in support of campaigns for positive change for bereaved people and their families, helping to raise awareness and understanding of issues, and influencing relevant policy. 

This includes campaigns for access to bereavement benefits, birth certificate equality and workplace bereavement policies. Together, we aim to reach and support as many young bereaved people as possible. 

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's support for clients following a loss at our bereavement section.