Report unveils the true scale and impact of grief among adults and children

  • Around 750,000 excess bereavements occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Half of bereaved children said they did not get the support they needed from their schools and colleges
  • Funding from governments and the creation of dedicated school and workplace bereavement policies are vital to transform peoples experience of grief across the UK

One of the largest ever consultations on UK bereavement has found that support for bereaved children and adults needs transforming.

Consulting 1,000 adults, 100 child respondents and evidence submitted from over 130 organisations, The UK Commission on Bereavement (UKCB) report highlights the scale of loss across the UK since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report found that the pandemic left 750,000 more people bereaved than would usually have been the case and that 40% of those who wanted formal help did not get it. Less than half of children and young people also felt not at all or only a little supported by their school or college. This was especially the case amongst 13-18 year olds.

Providing evidence for the report Hannah Moloney, 17, from Birmingham says when her father died she was grateful for the support of her teachers but felt it was insufficient to fully meet her needs:

“My dad passed away whilst I was in Year Seven and the thought of even going to school and having to put on this fake persona made me feel nervous. I am extremely grateful for all the support I was given but I needed more.

“Schools should all implement a bereavement policy to support children. No child should ever suffer alone. It’s important for students and teachers to be more educated on what it’s like to lose someone. Counselling should be offered for students who are struggling with grief and teachers should be trained to help those who need it. As important as education is, your mental health and well-being is far more important.”

Today’s UKCB report also identified that there is a particular need to focus on better supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, and others who are currently poorly served. Additionally, it says that many people facing bereavement are amongst the very hardest hit by the cost of living crisis and that bereavement-related benefits must be extended to key groups who currently miss out and increased at least in line with costs of living.

Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, The Bishop of London and Chair of the Commission says:

“Today’s report demonstrates the urgent need to improve people’s experiences of bereavement, and the report sets out our positive vision for how we can better support everyone who is bereaved across the UK. To make this vision a reality we must work together, recognising that grief really is everyone’s business.

“We will never cure grief. Grief naturally follows the love we have for the people we lose. It is clear that more must be done to get extra care to those who need it. We believe that governments could transform people’s experiences of bereavement by investing just 79p per person in statutory funding. I pray that this report will go some way to illuminating a path forward and offering new hope for the future.”

Alongside its key recommendations the UKCB has set out a vision for bereaved people in future:

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

The UKCB concluded that to achieve this vision, governments must establish and deliver a cross-departmental strategy for bereavement that recognises support following bereavement as a human right.

To read the full report and recommendations from the UKCB please visit

Winston’s Wish can support your School, College or Higher Education establishment to create a dedicated bereavement policy. Take a look at our FREE bereavement policy template created in line with the NAHT or contact our training team for bespoke support on

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