Talking about bereavement still a taboo for many Brits

Categories: Community Engagement.

In a ComRes survey released today, most people (72%) said they knew someone who had been recently bereaved, however, one in four (26%) reported that they had not known what to say to them, and 40% only talked about it if the person who had been bereaved mentioned it first. One in ten (9%) said they had avoided talking about it with them and 4% said they had deliberately avoided seeing them.

Of those who has been bereaved, seven in ten said talking about their loss helped them feel better – but one in five (21%) said they wanted to talk but could not find anyone to listen, and four in ten (43%) said that they tried not to talk about their loss as they didn’t want to upset anyone.

Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the National Council for Palliative Care, which leads the Dying Matters Coalition, said: “Many people who have lost a loved one not only have to deal with the bereavement itself but also with the reaction of others. Although it can be difficult to know what to say or do for the best when someone has been bereaved, being there to talk, listen and provide support can make a real difference.

“We’re therefore calling on people across the country to show bereaved people they care, especially during the Christmas and New Year period as we know that it can be an especially difficult time if you have been bereaved.”

Being there

As part of its new ‘Being there’ bereavement campaign Dying Matters has produced a new leaflet, also called ‘Being there’ which has suggestions of things to say and do – and not say and do – when someone has been bereaved, all of which are based on bereaved people’s own experiences. This is available to download for free from the Dying Matters website and hard copies are available to order. The Dying Matters website also has a wide range of information aimed at supporting people who have been bereaved.

Welcoming the new campaign, Dr Ros Taylor, National Director for Hospice Care at Hospice UK, said: “Hospice UK supports this new campaign by the Dying Matters Coalition and hopes it will help more people to overcome their awkwardness and become more at ease in knowing what to say and do to better support bereaved people.

“It is tragic that talking about bereavement still appears to be such a no-go area for so many people in the UK, and that we are not at ease with loss, even though it is a universal human experience.

“Those who have lost loved ones are often not able to talk openly about their feelings and as this new research highlights, may even experience a negative reaction when they try to talk. Yet we have learnt that people benefit hugely from sharing their story and connecting with others during times of loss.

“Hospices have long-standing expertise in providing emotional support to dying people’s families both before and after bereavement and they also help raise public awareness about dealing with dying and death in their local communities. At this time of year many hospices hold events such as Light Up a Life to enable people to come together and take time to reflect on and celebrate the lives of those dear to them.”

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