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Someone experiencing bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic

Losing someone you love will be one of the most difficult experiences in a person’s 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 the person who was bereaved was living together with their loved one who died, not being able to leave the place that is so full of memories can be very painful.

Physical isolation and home working do not only create barriers for someone who has been bereaved to receive support from family, friends and colleagues, but it can also make it more difficult for you as a Line Manager to see how your colleague is coping and might limit the kinds of support you are able to offer.

When you have an initial conversation with a colleague who has recently been bereaved, you would probably find a private room where you can sit down and talk without being disturbed. However, with many of us working from home during the pandemic, you might not be able to meet your colleague face to face.

Make sure that you agree a time that works for your colleague, for example avoiding child care duties and times when they can’t be by themselves. It is also important that they know you are in a private space so that they feel able to express themselves without anyone else listening in.

Ensure your colleague is comfortable with the channel of communication used. Some people might prefer a video call or text messages, whereas others might prefer a phone call. Let them guide you in terms of the medium to use.

Further advice and guidance on what to think about when supporting a colleague who has been bereaved can be found under the Line Manager section ‘Someone living with bereavement’.

Although the pandemic situation is ever changing, there are a number of resources providing guidance on how to support someone who is coping with bereavement during this time. Please see the list below.

While your main focus is to support your colleague through a difficult time, don’t forget to look after your own wellbeing. Supporting someone who has been bereaved could be challenging for you – both as a colleague and as a person. For more information about supporting your wellbeing, please see the section ‘Help for you’.

In addition, many of the resources below and in our Useful Resources section, such as the confidential helplines and online forums, can help you as well as people directly affected by bereavement.

 

Hospice UK resources

Dying Matters

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

Local Hospices

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

 

Bereavement Helplines

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
https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/support/bereavement

Sudden

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.
https://justb.org.uk/

Our Frontline

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

Winston’s Wish

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.
https://www.winstonswish.org/supporting-children-with-send/

 

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/

 

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