East Cheshire Hospice is offering counselling to adults who have lost loved ones during Covid-19, even if they have no previous link to the Hospice.
Anyone bereaved whose emotional and mental well-being has been affected by the pandemic qualifies.
Their GP can refer them for professional psychological support from Hospice therapists.
NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group is resourcing the county-wide project with St Luke’s, Winsford, and Hospice of the Good Shepherd, Chester, also involved.
For East Cheshire it means extending services beyond families and carers of its own patients.
Adults affected by bereavement can access up to 12 sessions via Zoom or telephone.
The Hospice’s Adult Bereavement Services Manager Helen Wilkinson said: “We’re making people aware the service is there and those who’ve lost someone during Covid-19 are eligible.
“It could be someone anticipating death, a Covid-19 loss or the bereaved during this awful time.
“For instance, it might be a parent or spouse who died of another cause other than Covid-19, which you have been impacted from severely by restrictions in place during lockdown.
“Grief is a normal response and most people manage without professional intervention. However, for those who are really struggling to cope and for whom friends and family aren’t enough, then our psychological support services are available.”
Helen suspects there will be plenty seeking therapy.
She said: “There was already increased demand for our services due to Covid. In our area we’ve recognised that more bereavement support is needed and require extra capacity.
“People are more isolated and their grief compounded by restrictions, meaning they can’t hug, meet a friend, or catch up like they did.
“Some people try to squash down their emotions, or keep busy, before realising there’s a problem and they can’t cope. We’re seeing that now and the delayed reaction means we’re likely to see it in the future as well.
“We encourage people to talk about it, be open and seek help. Everyone has different experiences and Covid and lockdown has heightened emotions. Some don’t want to bother ringing the doctor because there’s a pandemic while others feel isolated.
“Those grieving shouldn’t wear a mask metaphorically and friends, relatives and society can help by listening and offer empathy. Bereavement is hard anyway. Now more than ever, people are recognising the need for support.”
Helen Wilkinson, Adult Bereavement Services Manager at East Cheshire Hospice.