11. When the subject is deceased

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When the Subject of your Search is found to be Deceased.

Not all searches for birth relatives are straightforward, and sadly we do find situations where the outcome is that the subject of the search is deceased. This always puts our clients through a complex emotional process where they grieve for the person they never found and the life they did not have with them. Sometimes the deceased person has died of natural causes and this we can find through the death certificate. However, we do come across cases where the deceased died of unnatural causes such as fatal accident, suicide or murder, although this is rare. This is always a double shock for people, who must then struggle to think that a loved one would have been lost in this difficult way. There is no way to predict or insure against the fact that people may be found to have died but it is always better to be prepared for this scenario.

We hope that the following advice is useful to prepare you should this arise.

  1. This is why we run a counselling service and we really do advise you to book in to talk with us. We are skilled at working through these experiences with people and can offer strong support. We can’t take the pain away, but we can help you make sense of your loss, and this will help you to feel that you can cope and come to terms with the situation by settling your mind.
  2. Don’t be afraid if you feel intense emotion. This is a very healthy reaction to loss. Sadness is an obvious emotion, but you may feel angry at the life you did not have with this person. The situation may feel unfair, and you may not know how to resolve your feelings. Talking about them is the best way, and this is why we advise counselling. We are experienced at dealing with this type of situation.
  3. Take some time out to grieve – even just a day to give yourself time to process the thoughts and feelings associated with loss and the surprise you are going through. Ask your boss or associates to support you with this. It is much better to take a little time out to recover than to try to battle on with muddled thoughts. The mind can process experience better when given some time and space. If necessary, and if you ask us, we can write to your employer and advise them on this. Just ask if you need this help.
  4. If you don’t wish to talk to us (you don’t have to do this), we advise that you confide in a partner, friend or family member who is sensitive to your loss and who will support you. It is natural to talk and share these deep feelings, and it will help you in the long run.
  5. Some people don’t share emotions naturally and prefer to be alone at a time like this. This is also a natural reaction. However, make sure that someone is there to support your private grief if this is what you prefer. Don’t stay shut indoors for too long. A walk-in fresh air can help you feel better.
  6. We can refer you to your General Practitioner if you feel that you would like a bereavement service through your doctor. We can help you find a long-term counsellor if you feel your needs go beyond the adoption experience.
  7. Cruse is a national charity that supports people with bereavement. They are contactable on 0808 808 1677 or .
  8. We will try to help you with as much information as possible about your deceased relative. It is definitely more helpful if you can have a clearer picture and a complete story of what has happened. So do ask us if you have questions in your mind about what has happened. We will always do our best to find what information we can, whilst respecting the legal privacy of others. We have helped many people put a story line together that helps them to make sense of this loss. We cannot take the pain away, but to give meaning to your experience is the best that can be done and we will help you as much as possible.
  9. If you want to share any stories with us about your experience, we would be pleased to hear from you.

Dr. Joanna North.

Consultant Psychotherapist Adoption.

September 2024.

Joanna North Adoption (Ofsted registered)

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