Coronavirus pandemic helps 24 million adults become more compassionate towards those who are grieving

14 May 2021

  • Research from Co-op Funeralcare reveals the changing attitudes towards grief and bereavement, and the impact the past year has had on the nation’s mental health.
  • 22% of UK adults now feel more comfortable in talking about grief due to the pandemic.
  • 48% said they found the third UK lockdown worse than any other previous lockdown.

Co-op Funeralcare, the UK’s leading funeral provider, reveals that due to the Coronavirus pandemic, more than an estimated 24 million UK adults now feel more compassionate towards others who are dealing with grief*.

The research, commissioned by Co-op Funeralcare and conducted by YouGov, highlights that the pandemic has changed the nation’s attitude towards grief and death, as the tragic events of the past year have made 22% of UK adults feel more comfortable in talking about grief and encouraged 54% to think about their own mortality.

Although grief itself isn’t a mental health problem, experiencing a bereavement can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. Sadly, 28% of those who lost a loved one unexpectedly said the unforeseen nature of the loss had a negative impact on their mental health.

Prior to the second UK lockdown, 77% of UK adults felt they had enough support around them from their friends and family if further lockdown measures were announced. However, just 66% felt they had the right amount of support during the third UK lockdown, with 48% stating they found the third lockdown worse than any of the other previous UK lockdowns.

In July 2020, Co-op predicted that the nation was heading into a grief pandemic. Tragically, this prediction transpired to be true, with 5.2 million adults experiencing a bereavement during the first two months of the third UK lockdown alone.

Just weeks ago, the world witnessed The Queen sat alone at the funeral of her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh. This image powerfully represented what thousands of other bereaved families in the UK have sadly experienced throughout the pandemic.

Now, the country is preparing for funeral restrictions to ease on 17th May. From this date, the size of the venue will determine how many mourners are able to attend a funeral service, whilst still adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Over the past year, Co-op Funeralcare has worked with Cruse Bereavement Care and the Good Grief Trust to help break down the taboo around talking about grief, and to ensure the bereaved have access to the support they not only need but deserve.

Since October 2019, Co-op have partnered with mental health charities, Mind, the Scottish Association for Mental Health and Inspire to bring communities together to improve mental wellbeing. In that time, Co-op’s colleagues, members and customers have fundraised over £4.5million to support new mental wellbeing services across the UK, all whilst raising awareness and starting the conversation around the importance of mental wellbeing.

Sam Tyrer, Managing Director of Co-op Funeralcare, said: “During Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s important that we take time to reflect on the devastating impact the tragic events of the past year have had on the nation. Communities have experienced loss on a previously unimaginable scale, so it is crucial for us to ensure adequate support is available as society begins to enter a new normality.

“The research findings and our experience supporting thousands of bereaved families over the past fourteen months truly bring to light the scale of the nation’s mourning, the wider impact this has had, and the way in which the pandemic has started to change how we talk about grief and mortality. We are committed to ensuring the bereaved are fully supported and have access to the services they need in the weeks, months, and even years ahead.”


Media Enquiries

For further information please contact: Aimi McNeill / aimi.mcneill@coop.co.uk / 07739 657 585 Sarah Jane Thoms / sarahjane.thoms@coop.co.uk / 07890 384 552 Vikki McCrindle / vikki.mccrindle@coop.co.uk / 07773 096 848

Notes to editors:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.

Survey 1: Total sample size was 2,097 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 30th October - 1st November 2020. Survey 2: Total sample size was 2,482 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 26th February 2021.

Both surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

*“Over 24 million” calculation based on 47% of overall adults aged 18+ in the UK, 52,673,433.

Mind is a registered charity in England and Wales (219830). SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) is a registered charity in Scotland (SC008897). Inspire is a registered charity in Northern Ireland (103470).

About the Co-op:

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by over 4 million UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.

Employing over 63,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of £11.5 billion. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Co-op is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes. The Co-op exists to meet members’ needs and stand up for the things they believe in.