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National Grief Awareness Week: offering us a platform to talk openly

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3 min read

Losing someone close to us is one of the most difficult things we can go through, and although it will affect almost all of us at some point in our lives, it is something we rarely speak about.

Grief - and the complex emotions that go with it - is a normal, natural response and is never something to be ashamed of or concealed.

Yet grief and bereavement can still be stigmatised. Many people find it difficult to engage in conversations, whether that’s acknowledging someone’s grief, offering understanding, or simply lending an open ear.

It is still seen by many as an uncomfortable topic, and this can prevent people getting the support they need.

National Grief Awareness Week offers us a platform to talk openly about grief. It helps people engage without stigma - to share experiences, normalise grief and to stand together with all those who are grieving.

Covid-19 has shone a light on the importance of opening up about grief, of sharing our stories, better our understanding, of normalising it – and National Grief Awareness Week will only further this.

This Week also brings further attention to the array of helpful bereavement charities and voluntary organisations. Whether it is signposting to services, providing advice and guidance, or counselling – they are there to help.

As a Minister for Bereavement, I am committed to making sure grief issues get the attention they deserve, and to make sure people who are grieving have access to the support they need.

The effect of Covid-19 on bereavement services has been deep and wide-reaching, and we know all too well that behind every death, whether caused by COVID-19 or not, are friends and families grieving their loss.

This is why we have given over £10.2m to charities, including bereavement charities, since March - to help ensure bereavement services have been there for those who need them. 

As the Government has taken necessary steps to control the virus, people up and down the country have made an extraordinary sacrifice – they’ve put their lives on hold and distanced themselves from their loved ones. I know how hard this has been. 

They have restricted the ability of the bereaved to access much needed comfort and support from family and friends. Funerals and other rituals have not been able to proceed in the same way as before. These are important components of healthy grieving and I understand the pain this has caused. 

I am also aware of the links between bereavement and mental health. Grief is not a mental health problem, but it can increase vulnerability. We know that around 10% of bereaved people experience mental health conditions such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress and prolonged grief disorder.

Providing the right support at the right time is critical, and I am committed to working with colleagues across government as well as the bereavement support sector to ensure this happens. 

Covid-19 has shone a light on the importance of opening up about grief, of sharing our stories, better our understanding, of normalising it – and National Grief Awareness Week will only further this.

It is an important opportunity for us to stand together with all those who are grieving and to help people process their grief in the knowledge that they are not alone.


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