Bereavement counselling

Bereavement during the coronavirus pandemic

Bereavement Helpline

Sudden are a not-for-profit organisation, set up to help bereaved people immediately after a sudden death - whether COVID-19 related or not. They can provide guidance, support and advice to those dealing with the loss of a loved one.

To access the service, email or ring 0800 2600 400.

Government guidance for communities managing a death

There is an increased risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) where families and communities come together following the death of a loved one, from any cause.

These rituals and gatherings are important, but we must follow the Government advice to reduce the spread of infection.

Household members of the deceased person may have already been exposed to the virus during the course of the preceding illness. However, steps should be taken to minimise further exposure. These steps should be rigorously applied in cases where individuals who are not part of the household and those at risk of severe illness would otherwise come into contact with the virus.

Those organising a funeral should:

  • restrict the number of mourners who attend so that a safe distance of at least 2 metres (3 steps) can be maintained between individuals
  • only the following should attend:
    • members of the person’s household
    • close family members
    • if the deceased has neither household or family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number of friends to attend
  • at no point should mourners mix closer than 2 metres apart from each other
  • mourners should follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering
  • mourners should avoid any direct face-to-face or physical contact, for example, hugging each other unless they are part of the same household, that is, they have already been living in the same house as each other
  • mourners in attendance, should follow the general advice on hand hygiene and preventing the spread of infection:
    • wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to and wash your hands with soap and hot water as soon as you can
    • to reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel
  • before and after each service, clean and disinfect the area in which the service has taken place, as well as frequently touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
  • mourners who are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), or are part of a household with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, should not attend any gatherings
  • in many situations the household members of the deceased person will be the next of kin; they may be having to self-isolate in line with household guidance. Where the funeral is scheduled to take place before the period of household isolation has been completed (14 days from the first case in that household), there should be no mixing between mourners who are self-isolating and those who are not
  • mourners who are symptomatic should not attend in any circumstance
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