The impact of grief in the pandemic

Peace of mind is all we're looking for

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New research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has highlighted the experiences of those bereaved during the pandemic, and the impact of grief.

The research was carried out by:

  • Cardiff University’s Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre
  • University of Bristol.

Loneliness and lack of support

Two-thirds of survey respondents reported that they experienced social isolation and loneliness after a bereavement.

Restricted funeral arrangements and limited contact with relatives and friends were also challenging for people.

Almost half of the participants said healthcare and care professionals hadn’t provided them with information about bereavement support services.

Stories of grief

The survey allowed bereaved people to share their experience of losing a loved one during the pandemic.

A bereaved wife said:

We were isolated for all of the two months he was ill and saw no one. His only sister was not able to visit him or attend the funeral as she lives over 400 miles away. I received messages, cards etc. from over 100 people but only five people were able to attend the funeral.

The limited contact and loneliness has continued as I now live on my own and most family and friends are many miles away.

The preprint publication of the research coincides with the UK Commission on Bereavement’s call for the public to their stories of grief. The stories will provide the evidence for a report and recommendations on how best to improve support for bereaved people.

Learning lessons from mass bereavement

Dr Emily Harrop, from the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre based at Cardiff University, said:

It’s saddening to learn that many people who have experienced bereavement during the pandemic did not receive the emotional support they needed, and many more of those people were not told about the options available to them.

It’s vital that as a country, we learn lessons from the experience of mass bereavement during COVID-19. Health and social care providers must prioritise communication with relatives and help to ensure that people can have contact with their dying loved ones, even in the context of a pandemic.

However, this can only happen if resources for staff caring for the dying are also prioritised.

Share your experiences of bereavement and contribute to the review being carried about by the UK Commission on Bereavement.

Last updated: 19 October 2021

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