The Daily Telegraph
Grief counselling failures ‘fuelling bereavement crisis’
BEREAVED people were unable to access grief counselling during lockdown, a study has shown.
Many people struggling after a loss faced long waiting lists for support or were told they were not eligible, according to a study by Cardiff University’s Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre and the University of Bristol.
The survey of 711 adults bereaved between March and December 2020, was published on the medrxiv website and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19.
It found that the pandemic has had a major impact on quality of support and has “disrupted collective mourning practices”, which has increased people’s feelings of isolation.
Most participants had not tried to access support, but 56 per cent of those who did experienced difficulties.
More than half (51 per cent) of those surveyed were assessed as experiencing high or severe vulnerability. But 74 per cent of this group said they were not accessing formal bereavement or mental health support. And four in 10 respondents (39 per cent) reported difficulties in getting support from friends and family.
The authors are calling for information on grief and bereavement services to be proactively provided after a death, and for GPS to be better resourced so they can signpost people to such support. It comes as the Government is due to launch a UK Commission on Bereavement. Made up of 15 commissioners and supported by charities including Marie Curie, it will make recommendations on how better to support the bereaved.
Dame Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London and the commission’s chairman, said: “To have to choose a very small number of people to be present at a loved one’s funeral, not to be able to hug and to hold one another, to be unable to gather with a large group of family and friends afterwards is another series of losses heaped on top of the raw grief. We now risk a post-pandemic bereavement crisis.”