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Bereavement support

Date created: 6/23/2020

​The death of a loved one at any time can be a challenging and distressing experience for family and friends. In the event of a sudden and unexpected loss due to Covid-19, the impact of the loss can be even greater. Anyone experiencing loss, through Covid-19 or another cause, may experience increased trauma and be cut off from their usual support network. Know that you’re not alone.

Guidance, advice and support to deal with bereavement during this pandemic is available

  • Information from the Government (below) for families, friends or next of kin who have been bereaved as a result of COVID-19 or otherwise is available on GOV.UK. There is also further guidance from Government on Covid-19-related deaths. This includes advice for the public who identify a death outside of a healthcare setting, for example, at home, and also guidance for communities managing a death (including for those organising a funeral).

Government information for the bereaved PDF (300KB)

Date submitted: 5/13/20

This leaflet shares important information to help bereaved families, friends or next of kin make important decisions during this national emergency and explains the next steps, answers some of your questions, and guides you to the extra help and support that is available.

If you need help to cope with a bereavement, there is lots of free support available. Here are some of the services available to assist City residents.

Bereavement support service (St Joseph's Hospice)

St Joseph’s Hospice provides bereavement support and counselling for:

  • ​bereaved family and friends, including children, of people who have been cared for by St Joseph's, whether in the hospice, at home, or by other hospices.
  • adults (18+) who live in the City and Hackney, or are registered with a City or Hackney GP, who have experienced a bereavement that was not connected to St Joseph's or who are anticipating the death of a close friend or relative from an advanced, terminal illness.

St Joseph's Hospice is also offering support to children, young people and families who have lost a family member, care giver or other significant person due to COVID-19. This support is free and available to children and young people up to the age of 18 who either live in the City, or who are registered with a City of London or Hackney GP.

If you, or a child or young person you are aware of, could benefit from a chance to talk to someone about a death due to COVID-19, please contact the First Contact Team, who will take some initial information about who is being referred and the death that has occurred.

Face-to-face sessions at the Hospice have now resumed. However, telephone and video contacts remain available options for those who do not wish to attend the Hospice in person. Access to interpreters is available, if needed.

To self-refer or to find out more, contact the service via telephone: 0300 303 0400 or email the City and Hackney Bereavement Service​. Visit the City and Hackney Bereavement Service website.​

City and East London Bereavement Service (CELBS)

CELBS provides free counselling to clients living in the City of London whose family member died in a Bart's Trust Hospital. Please note that due to high demand, CELBS is not currently accepting new referrals.

​Association of Christian Counsellors' (ACC) COVID-19 Crisis Counselling Support Service

This service offers up to ten sessions of counselling on a no-fee basis and is open to NHS frontline staff, including those working in ancillary roles in NHS settings - such as cleaners and porters - and people who have been bereaved during this time, whether COVID-19-related or otherwise.

ACC counsellors work with people of all faiths and none and will not impose their religious views on clients.

Visit the ACC website for more information and to download a referral form.

Cruse Bereavement Care

Provides a range of free confidential support for adults and children, as well as a list of organisations and sources of help relating to bereavement, including other telephone hotlines. Visit the Cruse Bereavement Care website.

The Compassionate Friends

Offer support to families after the death of a child of any age and from any cause. Visit The Compassionate Friends website or call 0345 123 2304.

Child Bereavement UK has made a short video explaining how to support a bereaved child.

Peer support via The Good Grief Trust

For more information on services available to support general mental wellbeing, visit our Mental Health page.

There is support available if you need help with the cost of a funeral or need to access bereavement benefits. If you are struggling to pay for a funeral and your only source of funding is the Funeral Expenses Payment (see below), you are advised to tell the funeral director before committing to any arrangements.

  • Government Funeral Expenses Payment (you may be eligible if you receive certain benefits or tax credits and this can either be paid to an individual or directly to the funeral director, though the payment will not usually cover all the costs of the funeral).
  • Advice from the Money Advice Service, which lists alternative options for paying for a funeral.
  • Government Bereavement Support Payment (if you receive or are entitled to Child Benefit you may receive the higher rate).
  • Government Guardian’s Allowance (if you are bringing up a child whose parents have died. If you are a lone surviving parent you may also be eligible).
  • Quaker Social Action support for people struggling with funeral costs. This includes support via a pre-funeral advice line, dealing with a bill post-funeral and other useful resources.
  • Child Funeral Charity
  • Final Farewell
  • Friends of the Elderly
  • Turn2Us provides a range of financial support, including that related to bereavement.
  • City Advice provides free advice on a range of issues, including bereavement support services, to City residents or residents of City Corporation Estates.