The Important of Understanding Grief

Covid 19 has had a huge impact on us all and the way we are able to live our lives at present. Working in the funeral industry, supporting the bereaved on a daily basis, has been challenging.  It has been extremely hard for Funeral Directors to have to tell families about the restrictions around the planning of a funeral and this has led to some very difficult and distressing conversations.

The impact of the pandemic will inevitably lead to some  families experiencing very complicated grief in light of this;  not being able to be with their loved ones prior to their death, not visiting the Chapel of Rest to pay their last respects and for some, due to circumstances beyond their control, not being able to attend the funeral.  Guilt, hindsight, denial and the inability for them to accept the death may for many make the grief journey even bumpier than usual.

Training for professionals supporting the bereaved is critical:

  • If those bereaved through suicide get the appropriate bereavement support, this acts as a protective factor for them and can help to keep them safe from the contagion of suicide.
  • A bereaved child or young person who does not receive the help that they need following a bereavement is statistically far more likely to partake in risk taking behaviour, be excluded from school, self-harm or go to prison.
  • Employers that know how to care for their staff members following a bereavement can retain staff, reduce sickness absence and presenteeism and promote positive mental health and well-being.

Understanding GriefWhilst other organisations had to close overnight, for Rosedale, ceasing training was not an option, and they knew they would have to convert the courses for online delivery straight away.  Their Zoom account was ready to go faster than you can say “lockdown”.

Advantages of bereavement training from home

One of the advantages of translating any training to an on-line platform means it is more accessible across the whole country and it’s great that people who have been furloughed are still able to participate in training.   Training workbooks and attendance certificates are now sent digitally, unless delegates don’t have access to a printer, in which case hard copies are posted out, and the positive impact on the environment was also a plus factor.

Anyone new to the power of Zoom can have a copy of their free guide and they say it’s been great to see so many people continuing their professional development and making new connections with others within the same profession in an interactive workshop.

“The Schools Bereavement Training has been particularly well received with many teachers working from home” says Lucy Coote, a Bereavement Support Group Facilitator.    “They have taken this opportunity to ensure they are better able to support the bereaved children in their schools.    Currently around 1 in 25 school-aged children in Great Britain have been bereaved of a parent, brother or sister.   That is around one child in every class which is a huge number and most teachers have little or no bereavement training.”

One evaluation form encourages other teachers to invest two hours of their time, stating “Fifteen years into my teaching career I came away feeling it was long overdue.  How amazing would it be to be able to roll this out to every teacher in the country at the start of their careers!”

In the UK the number of suicides is increasing year on year and with the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, with job losses and rising unemployment, sadly these figures are set to rise. The impression this has on our society is huge.  It is said that the ripple effect of a single suicide affects 135 people. Apart from family and close friends it may be the neighbours, professionals supporting the family, and others in the wider community. Ensuring all those supporting a family bereaved through suicide are able to do so with confidence, competence and with the ability to signpost to agencies where appropriate so that the right help is given at the right time by the right person is key.

The Suicide Awareness Training, a three hour interactive training, has been taken up by people from across all of these professions, all attending because they want either to make a difference – to be able to offer the very best support they can or else be able to signpost towards support available, so they best serve the bereaved .

The importance of grief and supporting the bereavedThe latest course to be added to Rosedale’s portfolio is the Covid-19 Bereavement Support Training which was originally developed free of charge to support faith leaders involved in the local resilience forums in East Anglia.  However, demand soon snowballed, and the training has now been accessed by the police, fire service, ministers, doctors, nurses, funeral directors and those offering pastoral support in many different voluntary and council run services in the UK.    Feedback has shown that everyone who works in these professions want to offer the best support they can, using appropriate terminology and tools, and they have valued being made aware of local and national organisations that they can signpost the families to, in the hours they are not available, to offer that support.

Article by Lucy Coote

For more information or to book on any of the course mentioned, visit

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