Two-thirds report social isolation and loneliness following loss of loved one during pandemic

Cardiff University

New research has found that two-thirds (67%) of people have experienced social isolation and loneliness following a bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early data from research by Cardiff University’s Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre and the University of Bristol sheds light on the impact of grief for those who have lost loved ones.

It also suggests a lack of support for the bereaved, with almost half (48%) of survey respondents saying they were not provided with any information about bereavement support services.

The independent UK Commission on Bereavement is calling on people across the UK to share their experiences of bereavement.

Dr Emily Harrop, from the Cardiff University-based Centre, said: “It’s saddening to learn that many people who have experienced a 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.”

Dr Lucy Selman, from the University of Bristol, said: “With the average number of deaths in the UK projected to increase over the next 20 years, it is essential that bereavement services are adequately resourced and measures are put in place to ensure everyone who has experienced a bereavement is signposted to support options and information on grief and bereavement services.”

One bereaved daughter, commenting in the survey, said: “It was a cold, lonely experience, no compassion no empathy – so different from my dad’s death five years previous in a nursing home. The bereavement team called the following day and it was very business-like. There was no compassion.”

The pre-print publication of the results on the MedRxiv website coincides with UK Commission on Bereavement’s call for the public to “share their grief story” from Tuesday. The stories will provide the evidence to help shape the commission’s recommendations in the form of a report which they will submit to key decision-makers, including the UK Government, next year

To share your experiences of bereavement and contribute to the review being carried about by the UK Commission on Bereavement visit: bereavementcommission.org.uk/taking-part

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research part of UK Research and Innovation.

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