29th Jun, 2022

Lockdown's impact on region's ability to grieve

Ian Hughes 26th Jul, 2020

LOCKDOWN has had a major impact on the West Midlands’ ability to grieve, according to a new report.

And the report, by Co-op Funeralcare, also warns the region could yet face a grief pandemic.

An online YouGov survey, commissioned by Co-op Funeralcare, shows in the weeks following the start of the UK’s lockdown on March 23, 55 per cent of bereaved adults in the West Midlands had been denied their final farewell.

Although a necessary measure to protect the nation during the coronavirus pandemic, the restrictions on the number of funeral attendees meant many had been unable to attend their loved one’s funeral, with some councils prohibiting any attendees at crematoriums and gravesides.

When asked about the most important way to say goodbye, 42 per cent of UK adults chose being present when their loved one passes away, while a third chose attending a funeral or memorial service.

But in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19, neither of these goodbyes had been an option for some 243,000 bereaved families nationwide.

Funerals play an intrinsic part in the grieving process, and by being unable to attend, many have been unable to grieve the loss of their loved one. The survey revealed 37 per cent of mourners had been unable to pay their respects by attending a funeral service, while 45 per cent of people said the funeral went ahead, or will go ahead, with restricted attendance in person only.

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 the West Midlands 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 devasting 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.”

While grief itself is not a mental health problem, it can cause mental health problems for some. 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.”

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