A new partnership from Co-op and Cruse Bereavement Support is aiming to help people talk about death and grief more openly, as the nation continues to emerge from the devastating effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

YouGov research* out today reveals that almost half of adults in the North West (45%) who have not experienced a bereavement admit to being unprepared in knowing how to help a bereaved friend or relative and almost one in eight (11%) have actively gone out of their way to avoid someone who is grieving because they don’t know what to say to them.

Four in ten (42%) adults in the North West are worried about saying the wrong thing and almost a third (31%) don’t know how to start a conversation after a bereavement.

Of those North West adults who have experienced the death of a loved one in the last five years, four in ten (40%) said that the people they’d come into contact with had relied on cliched phrases of condolence because they didn’t know what else to say and a third (33%) had experienced people not referencing their loss at all. 65% said their community had not helped them deal with their grief and over a quarter (27%) felt that they had not had access to the right support.

In more positive news, 40% of North West adults are interested in learning how to better support the bereaved.

To help promote useful conversations, Co-op and Cruse Bereavement Support have joined forces to launch a new partnership which will aim to empower people in their local communities to provide everyday bereavement support to those who have experienced a bereavement.

Funded by Co-op members through the Co-op’s Community Partnership Fund, the campaign launches with a suite of bite-size resources featuring Cruse experts and people in the community, which address important issues such as understanding, normalising and identifying the signs of grief and knowing how the community can provide support.

Freely available for anyone to access at Co-op’s online community centre Co-operate, https://co-operate.coop.co.uk/improve-mental-wellbeing/#grief-support the new resources will be shared with communities right across the UK.

Later this year, the partnership will roll out on-the-ground bereavement support projects across all four home nations. Local Cruse colleagues will work with local communities to offer face-to-face workshops on how to support people with grief and knowing how and when to signpost them to more formal support.

Andy Langford, Clinical Director at Cruse Bereavement Support, said: “At Cruse, we know that those who have experienced the death of someone close naturally turn to family, friends and those around to them for comfort. However, our research clearly tells us that people don’t always know what to say to someone experiencing grief and feel in some cases it’s better to do nothing than risk causing upset. This exciting partnership with Co-op will not only help educate people in communities on the importance of good grief support, but will also offer practical ways to help people through some of the most painful times in their life. . As the nation continues to emerge from the effects of the pandemic, we feel optimistic that this important initiative can take a big step towards normalising conversations around bereavement and encourage communities to help each other through times of grief.”

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Shared Value at Co-op Group, said: “Co-op is delighted to be partnering with Cruse to mobilise communities to support the bereaved. Our research shows the vital role that communities have in supporting the mental wellbeing of those who have been bereaved, from supportive conversations about grief and signposting to more formal support, to providing hubs, networks and activities that can help with social connection, routine and meaning that may be missing following the death of someone close”.

Sam Tyrer, Managing Director of Co-op Funeralcare, the UK’s largest funeral provider, said: “Navigating the death of a loved one is a devastating experience and we are committed to providing support, not only at the time of organising a funeral but in the days, weeks and months that follow. Our professional and caring Funeralcare colleagues have offered comfort and support to thousands of grieving families, particularly over the past two years, and in partnership with Cruse, we are now looking forward to helping our local communities understand how to provide more targeted bereavement support when needed. Cruse does such incredible work to help the bereaved and together we want to ensure that nobody has to deal with grief alone.”

Tracey Harriman, a Cruse volunteer and Co-op Funeralcare service arranger from Littlehampton, West Sussex, said: “I see people every day who tell me how isolated their grief makes them feel. This joint partnership with Cruse and Co-op is a tremendous undertaking as it will help people in communities to have conversations, helping them to provide better practical and emotional support to those that need it in their darkest hour.”


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