COVID-19 & Community Life in H&F, by Sharon Tomlin, Sobus Community Organiser

As reported lately there is an increase in people contracting COVID-19 both locally and nationally of which the impact on residents and families has been upending. It is tough enough to lose a loved one, but during this pandemic – at a time “we do not control” is immense.

Insights gained from conversations with residents of the borough have revealed that more support needs to be done around grief. For many being in regulatory self-isolation the passing away of a loved one has brought about changes in the way how traditional bereavement rituals are carried out and how best to offer words of comfort for grieving survivors need to hear as living in lockdown has brought change in community life.

Some insights include:

  • Few residents have reported unexpected non-COVID-19 deaths of loved one that along with restrictions has impacted funeral arrangements
  • COVID-19 related deaths, residents report difficulties when arranging funerals as traditional rituals were not permitted to be carried out owing to a change in policy of some funeral directors has further compounded bereavement
  • Funeral services: regulations implemented such as not being permitted to sing, rituals for some communities to be part of pall-bearing were restricted or not allowed
  • The impact on mental health for many due to loved ones contracting the virus, health fears of vulnerable loved ones and increasing anxiety either never experienced before or exacerbation for those already living with anxiety.
  • The impact of those affected reported were mainly from ethnic minoritised or BME communities

Although residents prefer to have face-to-face contact when accessing support for grief and bereavement, some organisations have suggested the following online services.

Some links to groups and organisation that offer support:

The Good Grief Trust: www.thegoodgrieftrust.org

BAMESTREAM: http://www.bamestream.org.uk/

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