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Compassionate Communities for Extraordinary Circumstances: Report into bereavement support during the Covid -19 pandemic launched.

The results of a project looking at bereavement during a pandemic have been released today. The Covid -19 pandemic has meant that our experience of grief may be different, particularly when our normal rituals are affected or unavailable.

The project, a partnership between leading national bereavement charity, Cruse Bereavement Care, ExtraCare and researchers from the University of Bristol and Aston University, ran between May and September 2020, and involved eight bereavement support volunteers keeping a diary.

The diarists were asked to keep a record of their experiences and how the pandemic had affected their ability to support others experiencing grief. The report pulls together the most powerful themes and presents key learnings and recommendations for better support for people who experience loss in this extraordinary context that has heightened social isolation for many.

Five themes to be highlighted as a result of the project include:

  1. Compassionate listening and peer-support were vital during ‘lockdown’.
  2. A shared community feeling of grief arising from many losses, that were not bereavement related.
  3. Acknowledging and communicating a death in residential communities remains challenging, especially during ‘lockdown’.
  4. Grief and bereavement during ‘lockdown’ and a pandemic; a complex and very mixed experience.
  5. Bereaved people and Cruse Bereavement Volunteers have adjusted to telephone-based support and learnt new ways of working to support the community.

The diary project forms part of a wider Bereavement Supporter Project, a five year partnership project between Cruse and The ExtraCare Charitable Trust, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. The project aims to improve bereavement support for older people, including those with dementia, in ExtraCare retirement villages and housing schemes.