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Almost 70% of people ‘rethinking how they deal with death amid pandemic’

The Irish Hospice Foundation shows that 34% think we do not talk about the subject enough.

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Headstones in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Headstones in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Headstones in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Almost 70% of Irish people say that the health pandemic has made them rethink they way they deal with death and bereavement.

The survey also shows that 89% of people say that being together with extended family and friends is a key part of the grieving process.

The Irish Hospice Foundation published the survey of Irish people’s attitudes around death and bereavement which shows a majority of people believe the current Covid-19 pandemic has made the public rethink how we deal with dying, death and bereavement.

The survey, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A), shows that about 10% think we talk too much about death, while 34% think we do not talk about it enough.

Over half of people say they struggle to know what to say to someone who is bereaved or to know how to support them, and this number jumps to 77% among those under 34 years of age.

We know that grieving in isolation has resulted in doubtless suffering for many individuals and families. Sharon Foley

Some 29% believe there are not enough supports available in Ireland for those who have been bereaved – with 27% believing there are enough.

Chief executive of the Irish Hospice Foundation, Sharon Foley said: “We know from our work over 30 years that Irish people want a society where death and bereavement is openly talked about and not hidden away, where people can die with dignity and that supports and services are in place for end of life and for loved ones who are bereaved.

“This opinion poll shows us that more than two-thirds believe the Covid-19 pandemic is making us rethink how we deal with dying and bereavement.

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Many people believe the subject isn’t spoken about enough (Ian Nicholson/PA)

Many people believe the subject isn’t spoken about enough (Ian Nicholson/PA)

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Many people believe the subject isn’t spoken about enough (Ian Nicholson/PA)

“This supports our belief from decades of experience and our learning from the Covid-19 pandemic that death, dying and bereavement is truly everyone’s business and requires a comprehensive national response.”

The research also showed a significant impact from Covid-19 with measures introduced restricting the numbers at funerals with the vast majority of people saying that being with extended family and friends is key to grieving.

Ms Foley said that she has written to the National Public Health Emergency Team calling on them to increase the number of people allowed to attend funerals while maintaining social distancing.

“We know that grieving in isolation has resulted in doubtless suffering for many individuals and families,” she added.

The Irish Hospice Foundation believes the results from the survey highlights the need for further resources and supports for people to deal with death and bereavement.

The Irish Hospice Foundation also published a new policy document on dying, death and bereavement.

The document has been sent to all political parties.

These include:

  • Develop a whole of government strategy to end of life care
  • Renew a national dialogue on dying, death and bereavement
  • Plan community supports on bereavement
  • Establish end-of-life and palliative care services in nursing homes
  • Enable people to die at home or their place of preference
  • Facilitate dialogue and planning for end of life
  • Introduce a new national mortuaries programme

PA