This is a very difficult subject to talk about right now, especially so close to Christmas, but as a man who lost his Mum suddenly many years ago when she was only 36, I understand the need to talk and support through these difficult times.

There are calls for more help to be offered to those who suffer a bereavement. It comes as latest figures from Co-Op Funeral Care suggest over 8 million people have experienced a sudden bereavement this year. 

Death may be a fact of life but losing someone at anytime is difficult. A sudden bereavement, in the middle of a pandemic, with all the challenges that presents, is almost unimaginable.

  • 51% of UK adults who have experienced a bereavement within the last year said the death of their loved one was unexpected, with 1 in 10 UK adults who have experienced a bereavement within the last 6 months having lost a loved one due to COVID-19
  • The study shows that the unexpected death of a loved one has a significant negative impact on an individual’s mental health, much more than an expected death.

Before we look at the research in detail we spoke to David Collingwood, Director of funerals at Co-op Funeral Care. He offers some practical advice on how to cope, and more importantly, who to speak to, if you suffer a bereavement.

David Collingwood – Co-op Funeral Care

The UK’s leading funeral provider Co-op Funeralcare and the bereavement support organisation the Good Grief Trust joined forces for National Grief Awareness Week recently and are working together to highlight the importance of bereavement support which addresses all forms of grief.

Research commissioned by Co-op Funeralcare, and conducted by YouGov, reveals that at least an estimated 8,816,221 bereaved UK adults have experienced the sudden death of a loved one over the past year.

That figure is a difficult one to digest, almost 9 million over the past year.

The research findings also highlight how the unexpected nature of a death can impact the grieving process. Over a quarter (28%) of those who said they had lost a loved one unexpectedly during the past year said their loved one’s passing had a negative impact on their mental health compared to just 15% of those who experienced an expected death. Sadly, almost two-fifths (37%) of those who have lost a loved one unexpectedly said it made them think about the things they wish they had said to them, and 17% said the sudden death affected their relationships with other friends and family members.

Given the unexpected nature of the pandemic, with 1 in 10 UK adults who have experienced a bereavement within the last 6 months experiencing a bereavement due to COVID-19, the nation could be facing a second wave of grief.

For adults in the UK who have experienced a bereavement in the last year, the time immediately after death (33%), during the funeral (33%) and in the run up to the funeral (22%) were noted as the times it was difficult to deal with their grief.

With many funerals significantly scaled back, and limits on the number of mourners permitted to attend funeral services and rituals, there is a concern many people’s grief is being delayed or worsened as a result.

This is also true for those who said they have lost a loved one unexpectedly, with 10% of respondents saying their grief was delayed and 16% saying their grief was prolonged.

Susan Wright, a funeral service manager, lost her Father after he contracted Coronavirus in April this year, but the circumstances in which she was expected to grieve in have negatively impacted the grieving process. She said……

“It’s been seven months and I’m only just starting to process Dad’s death. I haven’t grieved, at least not adequately. Human interaction is integral when experiencing a bereavement, something we didn’t have during lockdown.”

Earlier this year, Co-op Funeralcare warned of the grief pandemic the nation was yet to face and sadly, this has been more than evident for the funeral provider when on the frontline supporting bereaved families throughout the pandemic.

Sam Tyrer is the Managing Director of Co-op Funeralcare……..

“Our colleagues have witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of the pandemic, and the wave of grief which followed. Tragically, our research reaffirms the vital need for adequate bereavement support. We are yet to discover what long term impact the restrictions faced during the pandemic will have but in the meantime, we will be persistent in seeking to improve the support available to those who have sadly been affected during a time of such significant loss. We will continue to work closely with dedicated and brilliant organisations such as the Good Grief Trust and make sure the voices of the bereaved are heard.”

The Good Grief Trust, an organisation which acts as an umbrella for hundreds of bereavement support services throughout the UK.

Linda Magistris is Founder and Chief Executive of the Good Grief Trust, she said….

“We know the impact of this pandemic on those grieving in isolation has been profound and many of those suffering a bereavement as a result of COVID-19, or under any other circumstance, have been left feeling alone and isolated.

“There is disparity in the provision of bereavement support across the country in normal times, however due to the disruption in delivery of information throughout this crisis, many of those bereaved have not received signposting to tailored help when they need it most.

“Our aim at The Good Grief Trust is to ensure that every person who is bereaved, receives our combined condolence and signposting card from day one. This resource will ensure they know they are not alone and that there is help and hope under our umbrella of over 800 local and regional services.”

The GOOD GRIEF TRUST is a fantastic organisation, run by the bereaved, fo the bereaved. They offer an understanding in difficult times because they know how it feels. If you’d like to find out more, and support their valuable work, go here. TRUST

If you’d like more information about this report and details of COVID restrictions for funerals, go here. CO-OP

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