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Grieving alone: One in four bereaved adults didn’t turn to anyone for support



One in four (23%) bereaved adults grieved alone, according to findings from MetLife’s new The Last Word report and just 3% confided in their employer or boss.

The report found that more than a third (36%) of UK adults experienced a bereavement in the last two years. Whilst the majority (39%) turned to their partner and spouse for comfort – sadly a worrying number of individuals experienced the loss of a loved one without any form of support.

A quarter (27%) lost a friend, one in five (20%) lost a parent, and one in six (16%) had a grandparent pass away.

At a time of loss and when navigating grief, it was clear those closest to the bereaved played a vital role in supporting them through this time. A quarter (23%) leaned on their friends and neighbours to help process their grief, one in six (17%) turned to their parents, and one in seven (13%) turned to their children.

Who people turned to:

  1. Partner/spouse – 39%
  2. Nobody – 23%
  3. Friend / Neighbour – 23%
  4. Parent – 17%
  5. Child(ren) – 13%
  6. Religion/ someone in a religious capacity e.g. priest etc. – 6%
  7. Cousin – 5%
  8. Therapist/ counsellor / support groups / Cruse bereavement support – 5%
  9. Grandparent/ Great-grandparent – 4%
  10. Colleague/s – 4%
  11. NHS – 4%
  12. Aunt/ Uncle – 4%
  13. Employer / boss – 3%

The study also found that well over a third (38%) of people feel uncomfortable discussing death with their employer – with just 3% confiding in their employer or boss. And just 4% turning to a colleague during this emotional time.

The report highlighted an awareness gap when it comes to workplace bereavement support. One in three (31%) respondents say they weren’t aware of any form of death or bereavement support provided by their employer including additional time off, flexible working hours, or wider support and helplines they could turn to.  

Adrian Matthews, Head of Employee Benefits at MetLife UK said: “Grief is a very personal experience. It can bring a rollercoaster of emotions all whilst having to navigate practical decisions. The death of a loved one can be an incredibly challenging time and having nobody to turn to can make a devasting situation even more difficult.

“Nobody should have to grieve alone. Having support available can be a real lifeline, be it emotional or practical. It is likely employers do offer support that could benefit their workforce, but employees perhaps don’t know enough about it or where to access it. With simple and frequent communication to their workforce, employers can ensure employees feel supported in times of grief, have an outlet to turn to, and importantly, let them know they’re not alone.

“At MetLife, via our latest Group Life offering, more than 1.4 million employees across the UK now have access to unique tools and support to help them prepare for their funeral and communicate their wishes. This ensures that when the time comes, they have the support they need in place, as often as they need it and 24 hours a day.”

Read the full article here