How do I support people who are dying, their relatives, and those who have been bereaved by Covid-19

3 min read
How do I support people who are dying, their relatives, and those who have been bereaved by Covid-19

Bereavement is difficult in any situation but current circumstances are making it even harder, as people have less access to their usual support networks, sometimes haven’t had the chance to say goodbye to loved ones, and are unable to observe some of the cultural practices and traditions that normally help us deal with death. As a staff member supporting people at the end of life, you may notice feelings of your own being stirred up, reminding you of past losses or causing you to worry about losing the people you love.

To help you provide the best possible support to people at the end of life, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and Support Around Dying (SAD) have put together a set of resources for staff working across all health and social care settings. In particular, NES have hosted a monthly programme of webinars, each focusing on a different bereavement-related topic. To access these webinars follow this link: support around death.

NES have also developed a resource for staff, teams and managers who have experienced the death of a colleague during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find this resource here: Experiencing the death of a colleague and a print-friendly version here. 

Additional resources relating to bereavement in the workplace can be accessed here. Some teaching resources that may also be helpful include: Living with Death and Talking and being with people who are bereaved.  If you’re caring for someone with a learning disability or communication difficulty, a range of free picture stories and illustrated guides have been developed by the charity Beyond Words, including an illustrated resource on how to respond when somebody dies from Coronavirus, and coping with grief and bereavement. These resources are available here.

SSSC has produced COVID19 courses for social services staff.

Several bereavement charities and organisations are also offering guidance, including advice on what to say when someone is grieving, and help with your own difficult feelings. The bereavement care charity CRUSE has helpful guidance on its website. PETAL (People Experiencing Trauma and Loss) is also offering bereavement counselling to anyone bereaved by COVID-19. PETAL can be reached by phone on 01698 324 502 or by email: More information is available on the PETAL website here.

The Childhood Bereavement Network also offers guidance on how to support a bereaved child or young person, or how to say goodbye when normal funeral arrangements are not possible.

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