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People bereaved by Covid-19 in UK feel forgotten, charity says

People who have lost loved ones during the pandemic feel the UK has become desensitised to death, and their biggest challenge is being isolated and alone when grieving, according to a charity.

The palliative care and bereavement charity Sue Ryder is calling on governments to allow those who are grieving to form bereavement support bubbles with others in similar circumstances, particularly during any future lockdown.

Its research found 62% of people bereaved since the end of March felt the nation had become “desensitised to death”, while 55% felt their loved one’s death was “just a statistic”. It also found that 59% felt as though their grief had been forgotten.

Two-thirds of the 503 adults surveyed said forming a support bubble would be a “vital source of support”.

The charity, which has seen a significant increase in demand for its online bereavement support services since March, says too many people have had to grieve in isolation during the pandemic.

Alison lost her husband suddenly to the coronavirus at the beginning of lockdown. “I didn’t go out of the house for seven weeks, apart from to go to Andy’s funeral,” she said. “I have had no physical contact – no hugs, no touch on the hand, all of which you would take for granted under normal circumstances.”

“The anxiety has had a terrible effect on my weight and I’ve become quite weak, and there is the added pressure of needing to return to work,” she added.

The charity’s call comes after Boris Johnson reversed his promise to meet people bereaved during the pandemic, claiming the group were in litigation against the government. The group representing 1,600 families, Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, denies this.

Heidi Travis, the chief executive of Sue Ryder, said: “As a nation, we are experiencing bereavement and grief on a greater and more profound scale than ever before.

“So many people have been unable to say goodbye to those who have died; they have then had to grieve in isolation, without the physical presence or touch of those close to them.”

The charity is calling on the government to extend support bubble policies to include bereaved people with more than one adult in the household, for example housemates and older children. This would allow bereaved people to form a support bubble with another household without the need for social distancing, for any future local or national lockdowns.

Research commissioned by the charity reveals that for almost two-thirds of those who lost someone during lockdown, the biggest challenge was being isolated and alone when grieving, and feeling as though their grief had been forgotten in the middle of the global crisis.

The charity’s proposal is supported by MPs Richard Fuller, Jim Shannon and Carolyn Harris, who has written to the UK government to back the call. “Grief is extremely complex – even without the added anxieties of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown,” she said. “For many people who have been bereaved since lockdown began, this has been an incredibly isolating time.

“The ability to form a bereavement support bubble without the need for social distancing, as single adult households are currently able to do in England, could make a huge impact for someone who is grieving.”

Read the original article at The Guardian

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