15 December 2022

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Co-op Funeralcare highlights that as many as 13 million* UK adults that are battling grief following a recent bereavement are experiencing feelings of loneliness or dealing with challenges to their mental wellbeing this Christmas.

With over 28 million* UK adults (54%) having experienced the loss of a loved one in the last 5 years, celebrities, charities and MP’s have along with the Co-op offered their advice and support to those struggling after a bereavement in the run up to Christmas and beyond.

The findings come after a report from the UK Bereavement Commission earlier this year which highlighted how important community support is for the bereaved. In response to the report, the essential role community plays in supporting the bereaved was discussed only last month at a Westminster event hosted by the Co-op, the UK’s leading bereavement charity, Cruse Bereavement Support and sponsored by Carolyn Harris MP.

Highlighting the importance of community, for just under half (49%) of bereaved adults spending time with people who knew their loved one helped with the grief. Pointing to the need for workplace support, 15% of bereaved adults outlined the need for employers to act, saying that taking time off work has helped them to cope with their sense of loss.

However, findings reveal that almost half of bereavements were sudden or unexpected, and that getting through the funeral (36%), clearing out belongings (25%) and breaking the news to others (22%) were amongst the most difficult challenges faced by those closest to someone who had died.

Aftercare

In response to the findings, Co-op is focused on expanding its support to families after the funeral and in partnership with Cruse is bringing communities together to support the bereaved. The partnership aims to empower individuals to provide everyday support to those in their communities who have experienced bereavement. Co-op in conjunction with Reach PLC has also in the last month launched a new podcast, ‘Let’s Talk About Grief’ where celebrities share their experience of grief and loss to help others going through similar feelings.

Gill Stewart, MD of Co-op Funeralcare said: “Our colleagues throughout the country are continuously working with members of their local communities to ensure bereaved families are shown the utmost support during their time of grief. However, as the UK Bereavement Commission rightly pointed out, it takes a village to ensure those dealing with the loss of a loved one still feel included in community life. For many the sense of loss can be overwhelming, even more so at this time of year, and our research highlights the power of community being supported by others can make all the difference at a time of grief.”

Speaking of his own experience of losing his father and brother, TV personality Jake Quickenden said: “There’s no perfect way to deal with grief, you have got to find your own way of dealing with it. Grief is something that never disappears, and I don’t think it really gets easier, it is such a strong emotion and it changes your mindset. I like to think of grief as all the love you have left for a person, that you can’t express for them anymore. I look at life so differently since losing my Dad and Oliver, some days are more difficult than others but every day is a day that I get to see my family, see friends, make memories and live.”

Steven Wibberley, Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Support said: “At Cruse, we know how essential support in the local community is for people dealing with their grief. The recent UK Commission on Bereavement highlighted the importance of support from family, friends and community in helping bereaved people. We are proud to be working in partnership with The Co-op on our Connecting Communities project, to improve grief awareness and support in local areas and ensure bereaved people are not tackling their grief alone. I was delighted to introduce the project to MPs and colleagues from across the bereavement sector at our recent Parliamentary event and we hope that this support continues as the project develops next year."

Coleen Nolan, TV personality, singer and podcast host for Co-op Funeralcare’s new ‘Let’s Talk About Grief’ show, stated: “Despite so many of us having experienced loss (and I have experienced my fair share myself), especially within the past couple of years, death and bereavement are still taboo topics, and there is still such guilt around experiencing grief. Many of us feel like we are placing a heavy burden on those around us when we’re dealing with bereavement, and choose to manage our feelings in silence instead of reaching out for help.

It’s no surprise that feeling unable to share your feelings after experiencing the loss of a loved one can be profoundly alienating, as we often feel nobody will understand what we are going through, when really this isn’t the case. It is my sincere hope that we take on the learnings shared by the UK Bereavement Committee and look at our own communities with more empathy and selflessness - as you never know who may be secretly battling the negative feelings that come with bereavement’’.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Survey findings Calculated using ONS UK adult figures and You Gov fieldwork *YouGov fieldwork undertaken on 28th – 31st October 2022. Total sample size was 2053 adults of which 1030 UK adults have experienced the bereavement of a loved one in the last 5 years The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

About Co-op Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates over 2,500 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5000 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.  Employing almost 60,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of over £11 billion and 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.

About Cruse Cruse Bereavement Support is the UK’s leading bereavement charity for people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We help people through one of the most painful times in life – with bereavement support, information and campaigning. We are here to make sure that everyone grieving gets the support they need, when they need it. You can access our services through our website, national helpline (0808 808 1677), live chat, group, zoom, telephone or one-to-one in person support. We have a specially trained, dedicated team of 4,000 bereavement volunteers and also provide training and consultancy for external organisations and for those who may encounter bereaved people in the course of their work. Click here for support and information. You’re not alone.