Northern Ireland's Bereavement Network, supported by the Department of Health and working with a wide range of stakeholders from across the HSC and beyond, will establish a new online centralised hub with information and resources for those who have been bereaved.
The new website which is set to launch later this year, will bring together in one place, easily accessible information and support to the public at whatever point in the bereavement journey they may be on. It will also include pre-bereavement support and a section on staff support and training.
Speaking at the NI Bereavement Network's World Cafe Event in PRONI offices earlier today, Permanent Secretary Peter May said: "Although grief is a normal part of the recovery process from bereavement and loss - we know it is experienced very differently by those affected. Therefore the work that is being taken forward by the Bereavement Network is very important for society as a whole.
"The development of the new website will provide a central point for those who are bereaved and need some additional support. It will provide early signposting to help people get the services they need, and the information will be in a range of formats to make it as accessible as possible. We know that with the right support at the right time we can make that difficult journey to recovery more achievable."
In April 2020 as part of its response to the pandemic, the Department of Health established a COVID-19 Bereavement Care Workstream. This was in recognition of the impact the pandemic had on the normal grieving rituals and that people may not have experienced the same level of face-to-face support from family and friends.
The Workstream put forward a number of recommendations to help improve the support provided to bereaved people in Northern Ireland. This included the development of a new bereavement website which is now being taken forward by the Bereavement Network
The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride also spoke at the event stating that: "While most bereaved individuals normally adjust to the death of a loved one without requiring professional help, a significant minority continue to experience ongoing intensive grief reactions, commonly termed complicated or prolonged grief. But it all begins with a compassionate society that recognises and supports individuals and families in their grief. Moving forward the development of the new website will assist in signposting individuals to the necessary support as it is required."
Chair of the NI Bereavement Network, Patricia Donnelly said: "We know that death during normal times is tough to cope with and for those bereaved during the pandemic it was perhaps even more difficult. Therefore the experiences and learnings from the pandemic, as well as the latest evidence based research is helping to shape the support we are providing to the bereaved population.
"We recognise that there has been a lot of good work in this space and there are numerous bereavement resources and psycho-educational materials developed by different organisations and groups. This new website will bring all those valuable resources together in one place for the benefit of both the general public and professionals."