COVID-19 Underscored Need for Grief Support, Survey Finds

December 17, 2021

December 13, 2021

Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of American adults say that the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for increased bereavement support, a report from the New York Life Foundation finds.

Based on a survey of more than forty-three hundred adults conducted in September, The State of Grief Report: COVID-19’s Impact on Bereavement Support in America (20 pages, PDF) found that 65 percent of respondents who had lost a loved one to COVID-19 weren’t able to grieve in person with family and friends. And despite 63 percent of those who lost someone to COVID-19 reporting that they were now more open to talking about death and loss, 52 percent did not seek out grief support during the pandemic. According to the report, 79 percent of those who had lost a loved one and 71 percent of all respondents said they wanted a more open, national dialogue about death and loss; 51 percent said the pandemic had prompted such conversations with friends and/or family; and 54 percent of parents of school-age children said they had had such conversations with their children. Yet 26 percent of all respondents were unaware of any bereavement services available to them.

The survey also found that, while only 28 percent of employed respondents were aware of the grief support and /or bereavement resources offered by their workplace and 30 percent were unsure of their employers’ bereavement leave policy, about two-thirds expressed interest in paid (67 percent), extended (66 percent), or flexible (65 percent) bereavement leave. Among parents of school-age children, 61 percent said COVID-19 has opened their eyes to the need for more grief support services in school, 69 percent agreed that grief support should be a priority for schools, and 71 percent wanted schools to give them more information and guidance on how they can help their children through traumatic events. Types of support parents saw as top priorities for schools were encouraging peer-to-peer support (79 percent), proactive communication to parents and guardians about available resources and support (79 percent), resources for students about death and grief (79 percent), access or referrals to grief counseling (78 percent), and training for educators on providing grief support (78 percent).

“We know that families in under-resourced communities and Black and/or Latino youth have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 -related deaths,” said Julie Kaplow, executive director of the Trauma and Grief Center at the Hackett Center for Mental Health in Houston and executive director of the Trauma and Grief Center at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. “Unfortunately, these are often the same children and families who have already suffered from prior traumas and losses, making the additional deaths due to the pandemic even more impactful.”

“Historically, we have been a grief-averse society, but our survey indicates that the pandemic may prove to be an inflection point, dramatically underscoring the need for more grief awareness, understanding, and dialogue,” said New York Life Foundation president Heather Nesle. “We all need to embrace this moment to encourage open conversations and practical supports — at home, in school, and in the workplace — so people will be properly prepared, cared for, and supported when a loved one dies.”(Photo credit: GettyImages/fizkes)

Click here to read full report:

“The State of Grief Report: COVID-19’s Impact on Bereavement Support in America.” New York

Life Foundation report 12/08/2021.”New York Life Foundation’s inaugural ‘State of Grief’

report: Americans want a more open dialogue around death and loss.” New York Life

Foundation press release 12/08/2021.

Subjects: Children / Youth; COVID19; Education; Mental Health

People: Heather Nesle; Julie Kaplow

Organization: New York Life Foundation

Location: National

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