Bereaved people let down

Cruse disappointed by Covid inquiry draft Terms of Reference

March 16, 2022

Cruse Bereavement Support is extremely disappointed that the needs of bereaved people for support have been sidelined in the Covid-19 Iinquiry’s draft Terms of Reference. We are the largest bereavement charity in the UK and through the pandemic our online services, helpline and a team of over 4,000 volunteers supported thousands of people grieving in isolation, unable to attend funerals or say goodbye to their loved ones dying in hospital. The measures put in place to keep us safe meant that grief was sidelined.

We are baffled and extremely disappointed that the needs of bereaved people continue to be sidelined by not being included in the Covid-19 Inquiry’s draft Terms of Reference.


Hundreds of thousands of people have been bereaved during the pandemic. Many of them have needed specialist support to cope with their loss – a fact that has frustratingly been ignored by this draft of Terms for the Covid-19 Inquiry. It is crucial that Inquiry investigates the support to bereaved people over the last two years and the role of Government in funding that support.

Steven Wibberley

CEO, Cruse Bereavement Support


Grief in isolation

As the experts in bereavement, before the pandemic we would have advised anyone struggling with their grief not to isolate themselves and seek the company of friends and family. We would have talked about the importance of funerals in helping with grief. None of this was possible for months and months and yet it hasn’t been deemed important enough to include in the Terms of Reference.

We know that some communities, particularly those from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds, were disproportionately affected by Covid deaths, yet this inequality hasn’t been included in the Terms of Reference.

I lost my mum the week of lockdown to an 18-month battle to cancer. The lockdown meant we couldn’t be with her. The thing I find the hardest is now this is starting to lift people are able to see their mums and hug them. I will never get that back. Because I’m a keyworker I can’t even see friends and family due to risk. It’s a very lonely time.

A long term issue

It is over two years since the first families lost loved ones to Covid and there have now been over a million people bereaved by Covid. This is not a short-term issue. We continue to see an increase in demand for all Cruse services and many people have more complex needs. We also know that unresolved grief can lead to mental health problems, the impact of grief will be felt for years to come.

Cruse and other bereavement charities received limited Government funding in the first year of the pandemic, but this funding has not been sustained despite the continued need for our support. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Cruse has seen a 50% increase in demand for our services – with thousands of people desperately seeking support during the most difficult period of their life.

We welcome that the Covid-19 Inquiry is listening to the experiences of bereaved families, but the Inquiry must also look at how bereaved people have been supported through and after the pandemic. Under the section “The response of the health and care sector across the UK”, it’s imperative that the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry include the point: “Support for bereaved people”.

The Cruse support I received during the pandemic was a life changer. I lost my mum in April 2020 to covid. I couldn’t say goodbye to her in a normal way. A nurse used her mobile phone for me to talk and say goodbye. My Cruse volunteer was the best friend I’d ever had, forever grateful.