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Members’ experiences of bereavement are helping Co-op Funeralcare to work up plans for how we can be better placed to support members at the toughest of times.

Last year over 17,000 members helped us by joining in with our biggest ever survey into death and bereavement. One thing mentioned by many was the lack of support available to bereaved people.

With this in mind, we’ve been talking to members again to find out more about the support they received when they had lost a loved one, the extent to which it met their needs and about the kind of support they would have valued, had it been available.

What’s emerged is a complex picture of bereavement support, in which friends and family play the biggest role, but where many needs are not being fully met. Members were in large agreement that the bereavement support they need is  holistic – covering both practical and emotional measures, but where they get that support from could be from different places. For example, the type of support that they would expect from a funeral provider is less about the emotional and more about the practical.

It was clear that there are many ways in which people who have lost a loved one could be better supported. Some of these are relatively simple – like providing clear and accessible information about the steps you need to take and the things that you need to think about when someone dies, for example. These are not always obvious to someone who may not have previously experienced the death of a close relative or friend.

“It [support] was from friends and family, so mostly emotional. That was great, but I had to deal with the practicalities of a loved one passing away and I had no idea what to do.” Lorraine, a member from Preston.

Other suggestions from members highlighted the need for support to be available over a longer period of time – to help people through the process of grieving, which continues long after the funeral.

“These days everyone is so busy – after the first 2 weeks everyone goes back to their own lives and you just feel like you’ve been dropped onto the surface of the moon.” Gill, a member from Helston

As a funeral provider in communities throughout the UK, we’re in a privileged position to support members and people in their communities when they’re at their very lowest. After reading all the comments from members, it’s clear there is a real need for more types of bereavement support.

Co-op Members shape our Co-op by joining in #TheCoopWay

We’re already making steps to provide support in this area and have recently launched the Bereavement Notification Service. This offers our clients advice and assistance following a bereavement to help them sort out practical things like stopping mail to the deceased, closing down social media accounts and helping to communicate with banks, building societies and other financial institutions. However, there’s still more we can do in this area and this feedback will continue to help inform and shape what that looks like.

Lisa Rooney,
Propositions Manager

Read more on how members shape our Co-op;

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. I lost my dad just before Christmas and wish I had spoken to him about writing a will and what he wanted for his funeral and the same with mum as neither of them left a will. Dads was the hardest to deal with as he died intestate and we have had to sort is estate out which as been a long process. He left instructions with my sister for his funeral thank goodness. talking about wills and funerals should not be a taboo subject and as hard as it is to talk about it we all need do it I so wish i had spoke to both my parents about this as it is a lot more important than you realise so thankyou co.op for trying / making this easier to talk about. I am now in the process of writing a will my self and yes more bereavement support is needed too.

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  2. I’ve just lost My Dad and I am totally devastated, also by some of the information I’ve since found out regarding his untimely demise and medical background

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    • Dearest Saz,
      I just wanted to offer my deepest sympathy to you at this very sad and distressing time.
      I hope fond memories of your father bring you comfort, and you feel his love embrace you.
      With love…. from a fellow human x

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  3. When my husband passed away the registrar gave me a telephone number to ring. Just one call and everyone was informed. eg bank, pensions, tax office. It was so helpful

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  4. I manage a day centre for the elderly and quite early on I decided that no subject was going to be taboo to my members so I openly discussed with them whether they had wills and power of attorney, whether they had thought about how they would like to be remembered and whether they had discussed their own funerals and who they had told. Some of my volunteers were quite shocked and thought it was insensitive but the members had no problems with it – and it certainly highlighted that members who had no family had no-one to help them make a will or even talk to them about what would happen when they died. I have since been involved in 5 members completing powers of attorney legislation; as well as attendance allowance and other benefits.

    Many of our members die quickly with no warning, some have suffered for years and then symptoms appear which makes it obvious. The members are encouraged to talk about their friends, but equally we accept that many of them are never mentioned again. Sometimes we are left a legacy and we can use that for anything we wish, sometimes it is specified. One lady requested that her money be used for a birthday card and gift for every member as “it was the small things that count”.

    We have had mixed experiences with funeral providers – some have been excellent but one was so bad I threatened to report them to the ombudsman for holding on to donations beyond a reasonable time,

    On a personal note, my own father’s funeral was a Co-op Funeral service and it was wonderful. Fifteen years on we have fond memories of their personal care and service. My mother-in-law’s provider was an independent and was also excellent.

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  5. As well as talking to members, I hope you’re finding time to talk to one of the start-up businesses in the Co-op’s Federation co-working space which is working in this exact same area.

    I know it’s something the Board is keen to work on and this is a leading example of what could be possible. You could save a lot of time and money by forming a partnership with them.

    They have products ready to go…..

    Federation is a 3 minute walk from Angel Sq.

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  6. Support can come from everywhere. People also need the time to grieve.
    Family and friends can do so much as can the funeral and/or End of Life Doula or support person.
    One may need to turn to a professional with expertise in bereavement and mourning or grief and loss.
    Peer support networks or groups can be helpful too.

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  7. This is all excellent and any help given at the time of a bereavement is most welcome and should be applauded.

    However as a Co-operative member for most of my life and I am now in my early seventies I was so disappointed to find out just recently that Co-op management had taken a decision with little or no consultation with it`s members to close down The Co-operative Electrical Store.
    Our Co-operative Values and Principles are very much to do with our Co-op Society providing goods and services to members and the loss of Co-operative Electrical store is another nail in the coffin and demise of the Co-op providing services and goods for members and customers alike.
    It is not just about profit it is about providing Co-operative services and goods..

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#TheCoopWay, Funeralcare and Life Planning, Join In