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At least 8 million people have experienced the sudden death of a loved 1 this year

THE UK's leading funeral provider Co-op Funeralcare and the bereavement support organisation the Good Grief Trust joined forces ahead of National Grief Awareness Week and are working together to highlight the importance of bereavement support which addresses all forms of grief. Research Commissioned by Co-op Funeralcare, and conducted by YouGov, reveals that at least an estimated 8,816,221 bereaved UK adults have experienced the sudden death of a loved 1 over the past year. The research findings also highlight how the unexpected nature of a death can impact the grieving process. Over a quarter (28%) of those who said they had lost a loved 1 unexpectedly during the past year said that their loved one's passing had a negative impact on their mental health Compared to just 15% of those who experienced an expected death.

Sadly, almost 37% of those who have lost a loved 1 unexpectedly said it made them think about the things they wish they had said to them, and 17% said the sudden death affected their relationships with other friends and family members.  Given the unexpected nature of the Pandemic, with 1 in 10 UK adults who have experienced a bereavement within the last 6 months experiencing a bereavement due to Covid19, the nation could be facing a 2nd wave of grief. For adults in the UK who have experienced a bereavement in the last year, the time immediately after death (33%), during the funeral (33%) and in the run up to the funeral (22%) were noted as the times it was difficult to deal with their grief.  With many funerals significantly scaled back, and limits on the number of mourners permitted to attend funeral services and rituals, there is a concern many people's grief is being delayed or worsened as a result. This is also true for those who said they have lost a loved 1 unexpectedly, with 10% of respondents saying their grief was delayed and 16% saying their grief was prolonged.

Susan Wright, a funeral service manager in West London, lost her Father after he contracted Coronavirus in April earlier this year, but the circumstances in which she was expected to grieve in have negatively impacted the grieving process.  Susan said:- "It's been 7 months and I'm only just starting to process Dad's death. I haven't grieved, at least not adequately. Human interaction is integral when experiencing a bereavement, something we didn't have during lockdown."

Earlier this year, Co-op Funeralcare warned of the grief Pandemic the nation was yet to face and sadly, this has been more than evident for the funeral provider when on the frontline supporting bereaved families throughout the Pandemic. Sam Tyrer, Managing Director of Co-op Funeralcare, said:- "Our colleagues have witnessed 1st hand the devastating impact of the Pandemic, and the wave of grief which followed. Tragically, our research reaffirms the vital need for adequate bereavement support. We are yet to discover what long term impact the restrictions faced during the Pandemic will have but in the meantime, we will be persistent in seeking to improve the support available to those who have sadly been affected during a time of such significant loss. We will continue to work closely with dedicated and brilliant organisations such as the Good Grief Trust and make sure the voices of the bereaved are heard."

National Grief Awareness Week ran from Wednesday, 2 December to Wednesday, 8 December 2020 and is organised by the Good Grief Trust, an organisation which acts as an umbrella for hundreds of bereavement support services throughout the UK. Across the nation, famous landmarks and public buildings have lit up yellow in solidarity, and to show their support for those who are grieving.

Linda Magistris, Founder and Chief Executive of the Good Grief Trust, explained that:- "We know the impact of this Pandemic on those grieving in isolation has been profound and many of those suffering a bereavement, as a result of Covid19, or under any other circumstance, have been left feeling alone and isolated. There is disparity in the provision of bereavement support across the country in normal times, however due to the disruption in delivery of information throughout this crisis, many of those bereaved have not received signposting to tailored help when they need it most. Our aim at The Good Grief Trust is to ensure that every person who is bereaved, receives our Combined condolence and signposting card from day 1. This resource will ensure they know they are not alone and that there is help and hope under our umbrella of over 800 local and Regional services."

Andy Langford, Clinical Director, at Cruse Bereavement Care, commented:- "There are added Complications for those who experience a death in a sudden and unexpected manner. There can be additional shock, severe distress, and trauma. It is more likely that for those experiencing a sudden and unexpected death, anxiety and severe low moods will be present. Expected death can have a profound impact upon those closest to the person who has died. If the death has been anticipated for a time, it does not necessarily make the experience easier to handle. Having time to prepare may be helpful. However, witnessing someone go through a long and painful process before death can be heart wrenching. Each situation needs to be individually considered."

Shirley Smith, Founder and Chief Operating Officer, at If U Care Share, also added that:- "Bereaved loved ones may never receive the answers to the questions they have and sadly, may never understand. Like an old record with the needle stuck in the groove, these incessant questions remain long after the initial shock subsides, and the funeral flowers have wilted. We can't apply a generic:- '1 size fits all' approach to grief. Each experience is unique, as is the person who has died and the relationships they had with their loved ones. It is important that we acknowledge how each form of grief differs and in acknowledging this, we can offer the correct forms of support."

No child to go hungry this Christmas

NO Child will go hungry this Christmas, Liverpool City Council has pledged, as it provides ₤925,000 of free School meal vouchers to 20,000 eligible children. Families whose children receive free School meals will get supermarket vouchers worth ₤30 per child, to buy food for the 2 week break, paid from the Government’s Covid Winter Grant Scheme. The vouchers are being delivered to Schools, from Thursday, 10 December 2020. Schools will be in touch with eligible parents / carers direct to arrange distribution. Thanks to this support, struggling families will be given a helping hand over the festive season.

Councillor Lynnie Hinnigan, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said:- "Liverpool City Council wants to make sure that no child goes without this Christmas, a time which is meant to be full of joy and celebration. But many families in Liverpool have had a difficult year, hit hard by the pandemic, and are struggling to make ends meet. Sadly, they’re worrying about how they will put food on the table, let alone presents under the tree. So this support should give families and children in need such much needed cheer."

Families of pre-School children are also being offered support. The Council will post out ₤30 vouchers to families with children aged 2 that receive free early education, as well as to families with children aged under 2 and between the ages of 3 to 4, who are in receipt of Council Tax Support. The vouchers will be hitting doormats, from Monday, 21 December 2020 onwards.

Liverpool City Council was awarded ₤2.4 million in total from the Government to support vulnerable families and individuals between December and March 2021. We can choose how we spend the money, as long as it helps those most in need with essentials like food, energy or water bills. Over ₤1.3 million of the grant has been set aside for free School meal vouchers to cover the Christmas and February ½ Term Holidays.

Councillor Barbara Murray, Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills, said:- "We're proud to be able to support local children and their families in this way. No families should have to worry about providing food for their children over the holidays. We want to take the pressure off during this difficult time, and encourage anyone with children who might be eligible for free School meals to apply on our website as soon as possible or contact their child’s School for help. Thank you to all of our Schools for their amazing support in getting vouchers out to families who need them, in time for Christmas."

Finally, any families whose financial circumstances have changed and who might now have children eligible for free School meals, are urged to apply online through the Council’s website as soon as possible, in order to receive help. More details can be found at:- Liverpool.Gov.UK/FreeSchoolMealVouchers.

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