Bereavement in the UK
Just over 484,000 people died in 2011 in the UK. For each of these deaths it is likely that 3 to 4 close family members will be significantly affected (husband/wife, mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister). It is also likely that some 1.5 to 2 million people suffer a close bereavement each year.
Bereavement and society
There have been significant changes in the way bereavement is dealt with by the community during the 20th century. One hundred years ago, death was considered much more as an inevitable part of life. Death rates were higher, and families and communities were much closer, so death, the rituals surrounding it, and the grief of the bereaved were much more “public” than they are nowadays. Because of this, support and understanding was much more available.
During the 20th century various things have happened that have changed the way bereavement is perceived:
All the above factors have conspired to mean that death is rarely talked about in society nowadays. It is something that people consider “happens to someone else”. Because of this, society in general struggles with understanding the needs of bereaved people, and in its embarrassment of not knowing what to do or say, tends to hope that people will “get over it” quickly.
Yet for anyone suffering a close bereavement, grief is a journey that takes time and involves heartache, pain, and sometimes complex emotions and difficult practicalities to deal with. Where there is silence or lack of understanding from the society around them, the bereaved person can easily feel isolated and confused – and therefore find it difficult to grieve effectively and rebuild their lives.