Co-op Funeralcare calls for better support for those recently bereaved in the South East

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New research from Co-op Funeralcare, which has 244 homes in the South East including in Canterbury, has today revealed that 70% of South East residents have experienced the bereavement of someone close to them during the past five years, whilst more than a third (37%) shared that this bereavement was sudden.

This information comes as part of the first phase of results from Co-op Funeralcare’s Biggest Ever Survey, a state of the nation report into death, dying and bereavement, and ahead of the festive season which is typically a difficult time for the bereaved. This study, conducted by YouGov, has now gathered the thoughts and attitudes of over 60,000 people across the UK, including the views of 2,193 from across the South East, and 24,000 Co-op member owners, since 2018.

More than half (54%) of those in the South East who have lost a loved one due to an expected death said that the nature of the death meant they were able to prepare. The 37% who have experienced a sudden bereavement during the past five years sadly did not have this time to prepare for their loss or anticipate the consequent grief.

Co-op Funeralcare’s ‘A Nation in Mourning’ report* sadly revealed that one-fifth (21%) of UK adults were bereaved during the first national lockdown and an estimated 9.7 million mourners were unable to attend the funeral of their loved one. Almost three-fifths (59%) who lost a loved one during lockdown said their grief process was negatively affected by the restrictions in place.

The UK’s Bereavement Commission has reported that 40% of those who wanted formal bereavement support did not get any, whilst 33% indicated that none was available.

Almost half (46%) of South East residents who were grieving said they found it helpful when someone asked if they were okay, while a fifth (20%) said being asked if they wanted to talk about their loved one found it most supportive. However, more than half of the nation (58%) said talking about death, dying and bereavement is the ‘elephant in the room’.**

In response to these findings and ahead of National Grief Awareness Week, Co-op Funeralcare has written to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. The funeral provider has asked them to consider their latest research findings and to include commitments to implementing the UK Bereavement’s Commission’s recommendations in their manifestos ahead of the General Election, which is widely expected to be held next year.

Sharon Lindsey, Regional Operations Manager at Co-op Funeralcare Kent, said: “As our research shows, the pandemic had a huge impact on people and how they grieve, which is seen first-hand in the work we do in the South East, helping the community deal with the death of their loved ones and offering bereavement support.

“Sadly, we know many more people will have come face-to-face with grief over the last few years – some perhaps for the first time – and our services have become even more crucial, with increased additional support needed in the years that have followed since the pandemic.

“With over a third of South East residents experiencing a sudden loss in the past five years, it’s imperative that resources are made readily available and adequate local bereavement support is in place.

“By calling on government and our South East MPs to review their bereavement support strategy, we hope that everyone who experiences a bereavement now and, in the future, can feel fully supported.”

Co-op Funeralcare has 244 funeral homes across the South East, including in Canterbury. To find out more, visit www.coop.co.uk/funeralcare/funeral-directors

For anyone who has experienced a bereavement, support and advice can be found here.

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