COVID-19:  resources for bereavement organisations

COVID-19 is posing a big challenge to us, personally, collectively and professionally. Social distancing means that many existing services have to be delivered in a different way, and that fundraising for these services is difficult. At the same time, we know that more families are likely to be bereaved as a result of COVID-19 so there will be more demand for bereavement support.

As people and organisations working with bereaved people, you have a particular role to play, both during the outbreak and afterwards as people move forwards in their grief. It is important to be as prepared as possible, and to plan ahead to manage some of the impacts we can expect.

Here at CBN we will be keeping this page updated with information to help bereavement services across the UK respond to the current situation.


Jointly with the National Bereavement Alliance, we are runing fortnightly webinars for bereavement services managers and practitioners.

Click here for more information and to register.


We have collated resources shared during these webinars into our COVID-19 Resources Pack for those working in bereavement services. These have been compiled across 20 different themes, such as supporting important conversations at the end of life; delivering 1:1 support remotely, and self-care for those working in this field.

Download the Resources Pack here.

Current government guidance

For the most up to date guidance, visit the UK Government web page.

Bereavement services as lockdown eases

These prompt questions may help you think through how you and your service will work as lockdown eases.

Adapting your services

In compliance with the requirements on us all to follow public health guidance, most services are not providing face to face services (1:1 or group support) at the moment.

Alternatives to direct support

  • make sure you are familiar with the national online resources to which you can signpost families.
  • use your social media accounts to promote key messages of support and updates about your service
  • be clear about how interactive your social media accounts can be. If you don't have capacity to respond to messages, say so.
  • this guide to getting started on social media, and this guide to well-being for charity communications staff may be helpful
  • make a contingency plan in case staff managing these accounts go off sick.

Working in a different way

If you are planning to adapt your direct services to work in a different way

  • take time to think it through - what skills, resources and technology do you have?
  • don't overcommit - think through whether your plans would be sustainable if a high proportion of your staff and volunteers were to go off sick
  • discuss your plans with your safeguarding lead, data protection officer, insurance company and funder
  • The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has produced useful resources on working over the phone or via webcam as an alternative to face to face support
  • Online Training have a pre-recorded webinar to help you think through the implications of working online with children and young people and whether this is something that your service could offer
  • Privacy4 have produced a webinar on privacy and confidentiality when working with children and young people online.

Do not feel bad if you decide that it is not possible for you to convert your services. Your priority at the moment is to make sure that your service provision is safe and sustainable.

Managing your resources

Service managers are faced with many challenges in supporting staff and managing in the face of falling income from training, fundraising events and charity shops. NCVO has produced helpful guidance for charities.

Managing staff

  • For up to date advice about managing staff, ACAS have an updated guidance page and regular webinars
  • The Government guidance will be kept up to date
  • Working Families have produced a useful guide for employees
  • HRNet provides free tailored HR advice for charities in England and Wales

Managing income

  • Charities Aid Foundation have launched a small grants emergency fund for small charities affected by COVID-19
  • A collective of grant-making funders have issued a supportive letter setting out their approach to managing grants during the outbreak
  • BBC Children in Need have issue some FAQs to their grant-holders
  • Contact your funders proactively to let them know about changes to your activities and to discuss any necessary changes to your reporting requirements
  • The Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group have produced helpful guidance for fundraisers

Supporting grieving children and families during the outbreak

For any bereaved children and families, the current restrictions on social interaction and non-essential travel mean that they will be experiencing bereavement differently. For those bereaved specifically through COVID-19, there are an extra set of considerations.

There is currently no government guidance preventing funeral services from taking place. However, funerals must comply with current guidance on social distancing and protection of high risk groups, which might mean changes for example to the way in which they are organised and how many people can attend. Quaker Social Action's Down to Earth team have produced practical ideas about how to mark a cremation or burial if people cannot attend.

The National Association of Funeral Directors have produced up to date information. Working with colleagues across the funeral, burial and cremation sector, they have also issued joint guidance on the number of people attending funerals.