COVID-19: The impact on death, bereavement and grief

This toolkit provides guidance on developing an empathetic, compassionate and inclusive response to the impact of death, bereavement and grief. It also covers how businesses can support their employees to be open and share how they feel.

The toolkit includes a summary checklist for employers and highlights relevant resources.

About the toolkit

The toolkit includes information on the following:

  • Groups at higher risk of dying from COVID-19
  • Living with grief
  • Prolonged grief disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Grieving remotely
  • Responding to death and bereavement in the workplace
  • Actions for businesses
  • Additional resources

Background

At some point, during the initial nationwide lockdown, second waves or localised lockdowns, all UK employers and employees could be touched by the issue of death, bereavement and grief caused directly or indirectly by COVID-19.

COVID-19 presents additional challenges to the grieving process, and funeral and burial arrangements for loved ones. The loneliness and isolation of dying alone may be difficult for the individual and for their family and friends. Attitudes to death and to body disposal are culturally diverse and we are living in a time when religious rituals cannot always be adhered to in the manner expected.

Businesses have an increasing duty of care to protect the physical and mental health and safety of their people. The experience of bereavement is unique to each person but being in a supportive environment which allows someone to express their feelings is often helpful. The impact of not handling deaths well during COVID-19 may risk mental health issues and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and there can be serious implications if trauma remains untreated.

Now is the time for employers to meet the challenge, talk about death in a meaningful way and to consider the impact that tens of thousands of deaths linked to COVID-19 will have on the workplace.  

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