Coping with bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic
Losing someone you love will be one of the most difficult experiences of your life, no matter the circumstances.
However, during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, restrictions and physical isolation has affected the ways we are allowed to mourn. Many people find themselves isolated from family and friends who would normally provide support and comfort in the time following a bereavement. If you were living together with the person who died, not being able to leave the place that is so full of memories can be very painful.
In addition, not being able to engage in social and leisure activities that would normally help you cope during difficult times, can make you feel more vulnerable in your grief.
If you are working from home, you might also find it more challenging to communicate with your Line Manager and colleagues about how you are coping with the loss. Depending on your living situation, you might struggle to find a private place to talk about the bereavement with your Line Manager or colleagues.
Although the pandemic situation is ever changing, there are a number of resources providing guidance and support on how to cope with bereavement during this time. Please see the list below.
Further advice and guidance on coping with bereavement in the workplace can be found under the Employee section ‘Bereavement at work’.
Hospice UK resources
Our Dying Matters resources offer general advice for adults and children on talking about dying, as well as bereavement support. Visit our website to access our range of resources: https://www.hospiceuk.org/what-we-offer/dying-matters
Caring for your dying relative at home with COVID-19
Hospice UK Vice President Professor the Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, FRCP FRCGP FMedSci FLSW FHEA Hon Professor of Palliative Medicine, Cardiff University and Bevan Commissioner, has authored guidance to help support people who are caring for someone who is dying at home from COVID-19 infection. https://www.hospiceuk.org/docs/default-source/echo/covid-19-echo/covid-19_care-at-home_guide_final.pdf?sfvrsn=4
Bereavement information and support
A number of local hospices are offering bereavement services to support people in their communities affected by the pandemic. Find your local hospice to learn more about what is available in your area: https://www.hospiceuk.org/about-hospice-care/find-a-hospice
Cruse Bereavement Care
Visit the ‘Coronavirus, bereavement and grief’ webpage for information on topics such as grieving in isolation, traumatic bereavement, funerals and memorials and supporting children and young people. https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/coronavirus-bereavement-and-grief
British Psychological Society
Visit the British Psychological Society’s website to access ‘Coping with death and grief during Covid-19’ – a resource about helping yourself and others to cope with death and grief, at a time when many people are experiencing the loss of a friend or family member due to the Covid-19 pandemic. https://www.bps.org.uk/coronavirus-resources/public/coping-death-and-grief
Good Grief Trust
The Good Grief Trust’s coronavirus bereavement advice webpage provides links to charities, support services and helplines that offer dedicated advice and information. https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/need-know-info/coronavirus-bereavement-advice/
What to do when someone dies during the COVID-19 pandemic
The bereavement support section of this guide, published by the Cabinet Office, includes sources of support for LGBT and BAME communities. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-the-bereaved/what-to-do-when-someone-dies-during-the-covid-19-pandemic
Marie Curie – Funerals and coronavirus
Visit Marie Curie’s ‘Funerals and coronavirus’ webpage for the latest government guidance on planning a funeral or wake, the number of people who can attend and advice on staying safe at a funeral. https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/support/bereaved-family-friends/organising-funeral/funerals-and-coronavirus
Cruse National Helpline
The Cruse Bereavement Care Freephone National Helpline is staffed by trained bereavement volunteers, who offer emotional support to anyone affected by bereavement.
Telephone number: 0808 808 1677
Find out more at: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/helpline
This webpage also provides information about local support services, and details of the online CruseChat service.
Marie Curie Bereavement Support Line
The Marie Curie Bereavement Service is for people who might want to have ongoing support, from the same person, over the phone. Callers can access up to six telephone sessions of 45 minutes. Note that this is not a counselling service.
Telephone number: 0800 090 2309
Sudden is a charitable service for people who have been bereaved by a death that happened suddenly. It offers information following a bereavement from the pandemic, along with a COVID-19 bereavement helpline. https://sudden.org/covid-19-bereavement/
Helplines for Frontline Staff
Hospice UK's Just 'B' Counselling and Trauma Helpline
The Hospice UK Just ‘B’ helpline sees specially trained Just ‘B’ staff and volunteers at St Michael’s Hospice offer emotional wellbeing, bereavement and trauma support nationally to NHS, care sector staff and emergency service workers. The helpline is available seven days a week, 8am-8pm
Telephone number: 0300 303 4434.
Our Frontline is a partnership between Shout, Samaritans, Mind, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It offers frontline workers round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text, from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health. https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/ourfrontline/
Supporting children and young people
Childhood Bereavement Network
Tips and guides on supporting bereaved children and young people during the pandemic, along with advice on staying connected and coping with funerals. http://www.childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk/help-around-a-death/covid-19.aspx
Advice and guidance from Winston’s Wish on supporting children through coronavirus, including information on topics such as telling a child someone is seriously ill or has died from coronavirus, how schools can support bereaved students and how to say goodbye if you can’t attend a funeral. https://www.winstonswish.org/coronavirus/
Winston’s Wish also offer support to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities when dealing with the death of a parent or sibling.
Keeping in touch when you can’t be with someone
Visit the National Bereavement Alliance website to access ‘Keeping in touch with someone who is so ill they might die’. This guide suggests ways that you and your loved one can feel closer together, even at a distance. These ideas are intended to help whether or not there is a hope that they will recover. The guide includes ideas for both children and adults.
Download the guide from: https://nationalbereavementalliance.org.uk/keeping-in-touch-when-someone-is-seriously-ill/