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Coronavirus (COVID-19): updates and advice, including help if you are struggling financially

Coping with bereavement

If you have experienced a bereavement

Bereavement is one of the most stressful and upsetting situations to go through, and during this pandemic, there can be extra difficulties that you may experience that can affect the way you cope with the bereavement and the length of time it may take you to engage with normal life and work again. For instance:

  • you may not have an opportunity to spend time with someone who is dying, or to say goodbye in person
  • you may not be able to attend the funeral, or the funeral may be significantly delayed
  • the illness may have progressed and become serious very quickly, which can lead to feelings of shock and difficulty in accepting the bereavement
  • the advice usually is for anyone dealing with bereavement to not isolate themselves but engage with friends and family for support. The self-isolation can cause grief to be felt more acutely and contribute to the sense of loneliness and low mood

It is important to remember that everyone is different, people deal with, and react, to bereavement in very different ways and experience a range of emotions.

Support is available if you need it:

You can also contact the charity’s free national helpline on 0808 808 1677 or email them at helpline@cruse.org.uk.

  • The NHS have produced a very good self-help booklet with helpful strategies for coping with bereavement.
  • NHS Covid-19 national bereavement helpline  - this has been introduced by the NHS to support bereaved families during the Coronavirus outbreak.  It is not a counselling service but will be available to offer support, guidance and advice on dealing with grief and loss.  8am - 8pm 0800 2600 400
  • You may also like to contact the Employee Wellbeing team which offers a range of support, advice and guidance. If you think you would benefit from accessing the talking therapies service offered by Steps 2 Wellbeing, you can self-refer by completing the online referral form. For further information, you can contact Employee Wellbeing by email employeewellbeing@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk or by phoning 01305 224266

Supporting colleagues, family and friends

If you are a manager, visit our page on ‘supporting someone through bereavement’ for some helpful guidance.

As colleagues, we also want to support people going through a tough time. We can feel uncomfortable about what to say when someone we know has been bereaved. But in these unprecedented times it matters more than ever that we reach out to those who are suffering after someone dies, while they are likely to be more isolated than ever.

Many more people are going to be bereaved because of Covid-19 and many people will be on their own dealing with grief, unable to even have a hug from a friend. Many will not attend a funeral and some will have multiple bereavements. 

Being present with someone in their grief is not easy, but is one of the best gifts you can give to someone you care about.

Stay in contact more – ask whether they prefer phone, text or video call (if they have it). Let them talk about how they are feeling and about the person who has died – talking can be one of the most helpful things after someone dies. You may find this difficult  so here is some advice on what to say and do.

If you think they need some extra help, encourage them to engage with the support listed above.

Attending a virtual funeral

Due to a limited number of people currently able to attend funerals, some crematoriums and places of worship have the facility to live stream funeral services via the internet.

In ‘normal’ circumstances, the shared experience of attending a funeral and wake can help gain a sense of support from others and marks an important part in the grieving process.

Whilst virtual funerals enable those who would otherwise have been unable to attend an opportunity to say goodbye, if you attend a virtual service it’s worth considering the support you have around you before, during and especially after the service.

It may be helpful to:

  • Ask good friends and/or family to be available for support so you can talk through how you are feeling. This may be via phone, video call or however else you prefer to engage.  The important thing is that you feel comfortable enough to be open and honest about how you are feeling rather than bottling it up.
  • If you know of other people who will be attending the virtual funeral, you may like to arrange an on-line gathering via Zoom or WhatsApp in order to get together for a ‘virtual wake’. This is a helpful way of sharing memories of the deceased.
  • Make a plan for what you will do following the service, even if you are staying at home.   
  • Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself some time to grieve.

For further support after bereavement, visit Cruse.

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