The bereavement is everyone’s business report

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Unfortunately, we will all experience bereavement and loss at some point in life and it is important to understand the significant impact that can have on us. From having to make practical arrangements ranging from managing property and financial assets all the way to dealing with the impact the loss has on everyday life and the emotional struggle of adjusting to a life without the presence of our loved one in it, there are many challenges to overcome. There is no “approved” pathway to experience grief as each experience is unique and the ways we find to overcome it differ wildly.

The UK Commission on Bereavement

Earlier this month the UK Commission on Bereavement published its report after having completed a consultation involving a survey of over 1000 adults and 100 children and evidence submitted by over 100 organisations providing support to bereaved people.

The report titled “Bereavement is everyone’s business” demonstrates how bereavement impacts us all and sets out 8 Principles of Change to help improve the support available to us. The purpose of this exercise was to understand the needs of people dealing with grief following the loss of a loved one and improve the services and support they can access to help them through it in a meaningful and supportive way.

The 8 principles are a series of “I statements” that in an ideal case every bereaved person should be able to make. They were developed by the UK Commission on Bereavement.

8 Principles For Change

  1. I am supported by my family, my friends and the communities around me.
  2. I am sensitively supported by my school, my college or workplace during bereavement.
  3. I am well supported during death, and feel confident that the person who died received appropriate and compassionate care,
  4. The things I must do after a death are simple and straightforward.
  5. I am compassionately and helpfully supported by those whose job brings them into contact with me through my bereavement.
  6. I have access to an affordable and meaningful funeral.
  7. I feel secure in my home and have the right financial support.
  8. I can easily find and access the right emotional bereavement support for my circumstances.

Source: Bereavement is everyone’s business summary report

By setting these out, the report explores the barriers preventing bereaved people from being able to make each of these statements and sets out a series of recommendations for breaking them. These recommendations are for everyone; some relate to how we can improve the support we offer as family members of the bereaved. Others talk about the ways whole communities need to overcome taboos linked to death enabling their members to express their grief. There are recommendations to government for enabling bereavement services to work closer together with palliative care and emergency response services as well as recommendations for these services themselves in how to reach out to those that need them. Finally, a number of recommendations are set to help employers and educational institutions better support the members of their networks.

We encounter people dealing with loss all the time

One of the most important things that came out of this consultation is the understanding that we encounter people dealing with loss at every aspect of our lives. There is still a lot of uncertainty in how we should reach out to bereaved individuals in the workplace or even the classroom which sometimes form barriers to those individuals being able to get the help they need. That can have a serious impact on the bereaved person’s ability to connect with their everyday environment resulting into additional future challenges ranging from disengaging with work or school or even becoming isolated. The responsibility is on all of us to understand the impact of bereavement and in our various roles offer better support to those affected by it.

Bereavement as a human right

As part of the conclusions the report advises that in order to achieve the recommended changes each UK Government will need to “establish and deliver a cross-departmental strategy for bereavement that recognises support following bereavement as a human right “.

At Enable Law we welcome the recommendations made in the report and acknowledge the role we play as members of our communities to start these conversations and help our employees and those we interact with get the support they need. In our professional capacity we often support bereaved people that have lost a loved one suddenly as the result of a catastrophic incident or medical negligence. We work closely with organisations that specialise in offering bereavement support both locally and nationally and reach out to them when we need their expertise to better support our clients.

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