A NEW nationwide bereavement support service has been launched by Marie Curie, the UK’s leading end of life charity.
More people than ever are grieving. To date, an estimated 450,000 people will be grieving since lockdown began, many in isolation, unable to use their usual support networks, and may be dealing with the additional psychological and emotional impact of not being able to properly say goodbye.
In the North West a total of 12,576 deaths were registered up to week ending April 24 (of which 3,944, or 31 per cent were Covid related).
Based upon the metric of five people bereaved on average per death, that equates to approximately 62,000 people who may have been bereaved in the region since lockdown began.
Marie Curie’s national bereavement service is available to anyone affected by the death of a loved one. The service enables people to access free emotional support from a dedicated volunteer, over the phone, for up to six weeks. The charity has trained 30 new volunteers and expects to double this in the coming weeks.
The bereavement service is in addition to the charity’s telephone support line which is already available for anyone, including health and social care professionals to call for practical information and emotional support as well as clinical guidance on care for the dying.
Gary Powell, whose partner Tina died in February, said: “It’s the isolation that makes grieving during a lockdown harder and the perfect environment for overthinking.
“Out of nowhere, grief can overwhelm me, and I just have to sit and have a cry. Normally I’d go for a walk to try and clear my head but that’s just not possible now.
“If I could sum up life during lockdown in one word, it would be ‘strange’. Everywhere is so quiet. The struggle is finding things to do to keep your mind occupied. To be able to speak to someone, fill that silence and not feel alone is a powerful thing.”
Anghaerad Burden, Marie Curie bereavement services co-ordinator, said: “We have seen a number of people get in touch with us who are grieving in isolation.
“They’ve told us that they wouldn’t normally feel the need to access support but being in lockdown means they have been unable to lean on their usual support networks for help.
“The pandemic is forcing everyone to confront death in ways we never could’ve comprehended just a few weeks ago, but we’re here, on the other end of the phone, to support anyone who needs us.
“I urge anyone who is struggling with any aspect of dying, death or bereavement to call our Support Line free on 0800 090 2309 or to visit mariecurie.org.uk/support.”
Marie Curie also is calling for a national day to reflect, grieve and remember everyone who has died during this time, whether from coronavirus or another cause. Visit mariecurie.org.uk/nationalday #UniteInMemory