Warning of ‘grief pandemic’ as mourners denied opportunity to say goodbye
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There are concerns that a “grief pandemic” may be on its way following restrictions at funerals as a result of the coronavirus.
New data from an online YouGov survey, commissioned by Co-op Funeralcar,e estimated that only 39% of funerals proceeded with restricted attendance over lockdown in East Anglia.
Meaning that the region ranked among the lowest in the country for funerals which went ahead.
Nationally, 59% of bereaved UK adults said that lockdown had negatively impacted their grief process.
A further 61% of bereaved UK adults, who have experienced a bereavement during lockdown, said that nothing has helped them to grieve
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In total, the Co-op Funeralcare said it estimated around 9.7 million mourners had been denied an opportunity to say their last goodbye at their loved one’s funeral.
It said that his inability to grieve at present means the nation could experience a prolonged period of mourning for months, or even years, to come.
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David Collingwood, Director of Funerals at Co-op Funeralcare said: “A funeral provides a sense of closure for bereaved families and is very often the start of the grieving process. Sadly, the recent restrictions mean an estimated 243,000 bereaved families across the UK and tens of thousands across East Anglia have been denied the right to say goodbye to loved ones in the way they would have wished.
“We completely supported the need to introduce these restrictions at the beginning of the devastating Coronavirus pandemic in the UK. We had to make some tough but responsible decisions to protect our colleagues and clients, and to fulfil our social responsibility of slowing the spread of the disease.
“Tragically, we don’t yet know what the long-term psychological effects will be for families denied the last opportunity to say goodbye, so it is vital that we do everything possible to allow families and individuals to attend funerals, whilst always prioritising the health and safety of our communities.”
Whilst grief itself is not a mental health problem, it can cause mental health problems for some of us. Co-op is working with its partners Mind, SAMH and Inspire to encourage those affected by grief to access support from bereavement charities before their mental health deteriorates.
Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind said: “The loss of a loved one during the pandemic is leaving many people struggling with grief. In most cases, grief is not a diagnosable mental health problem. It is absolutely normal that grief places strain on our everyday lives and it can take a long time to adapt to life after a loss.
“If you feel that your mental health is suffering following a bereavement beyond the stages of grief or if you have an existing mental health problem that is being worsened following a bereavement and you’re struggling to cope, it’s important to seek help, speak to a loved one, GP or contact a bereavement charity.”