Sudden is a charitable service for people who have been bereaved by a death that happened suddenly or too-soon in someone’s life.
This could be due to COVID-19 or another unexpected disease or undiagnosed medical reason, an event such as a work-place incident or terrorism, or suicide.
Following some kinds of death, for example, deaths on roads, we refer immediately into other specialist services, where we know these exist and operate to similar standards of care. The National Road Victim Service is run by the same team as Sudden and can be contacted here.
Sudden is also for people who are caring for suddenly-bereaved people.
The vision of Sudden is that people bereaved, in ways that are sudden or too soon, get the help they need at a time of darkness to move forwards to a brighter day.
Our mission is to ease the suffering of people bereaved by any kind of sudden or too-soon death.
During the current pandemic we are focused on supporting people bereaved by COVID-19 and all people bereaved in shocking ways by other causes and who are suffering from the challenges of isolation during ‘lockdowns’ and challenges of restrictions: restrictions on visiting people before they die, being close to their bodies, and memorialising in normal gatherings.
To provide free emotional and practical support, information, and guidance to protect the wellbeing of people bereaved in sudden and too-soon ways, particularly in the early days and weeks.
To unlock access to a wealth of specialist and community care provided by other agencies, to ensure that, through community collaboration, we work together to meet all the identified needs of any suddenly-bereaved person within our service.
To help families, friends, and voluntary agencies and professionals based in communities, to improve their support of people who have been bereaved in sudden or too-soon ways, by providing free or low-cost learning opportunities such as guidance, webinars, training.
To support and encourage partnerships and sharing of best practice between organisations caring for specific groups of suddenly bereaved people, such as murder and suicide victims.
To increase public awareness, understanding of, and empathy for, the suffering of suddenly-bereaved people and their support needs, and encourage civil society and government funding of our work to ensure its sustainability.
The work we do
To find out more about the help we are providing, go to Our services.
In July 2020, the Sudden service was awarded vital pandemic funding from the Government and also awarded funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.
Sudden is extremely thankful for this initial funding which enabled the Sudden service to be launched and start to deliver help to people in 2020 and 2021.
At this continued time of pandemic, we are in urgent need of continuation funding from government, foundations and trusts, corporate backers, major donors, and donations from the public.
Sudden is hosted by the charity Brake. Brake is the national charity supporting bereaved people whose loved ones have died suddenly in road crashes. Brake has been running the acclaimed National Road Victim Service for more than two decades, which is funded by multiple government agencies.
The management team of Brake and Sudden is led by chief executive Mary Williams OBE, who founded Brake in 1995 and who has expertise in the development of charity services and promotion of best practice care for people who have suffered a bereavement in sudden and shocking circumstance.
To lead the charity, Mary works alongside a Board of Trustees, including chairperson and lawyer Deborah Johnson, who has extensive experience helping people bereaved and with catastrophic injuries through legal support. Our trustees also include people in senior positions, and with valuable expertise, gained in relevant professions, including health and safety, such as Helen Gillan, general manager of NHS Blood and Transplant. The leadership team is also advised regularly by a range of academics and practitioners in bereavement care and traumatic responses to shocking bereavements.