As Ireland enters ‘Phase 2’ of the exit from the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the Irish Hospice Foundation, in conjunction with the HSE have today launched a national bereavement support line, the first of its kind in Ireland. The national freephone service (1800 80 70 77) will be available Monday to Friday from 10am to 1pm.
The support line aims to provide a confidential space for people to speak about their experience or ask questions relating to bereavement. Callers will be listened to with compassion and be provided with emotional support and information on any practical issues that may be helpful.
Sharon Foley, CEO of the Irish Hospice Foundation said: ”While we may be seeing reductions in the number of deaths connected to COVID-19, we know that people’s pain and grief does not diminish as quickly. These truly are exceptional times and the Irish Hospice Foundation wanted to develop a service to provide connection, comfort and support as we know that people can experience grief as isolating. The COVID-19 restrictions have changed the ways people have died and the ways we grieve and offer condolences. With many people facing bereavement in isolation we wanted to establish a service that could comfort and support these people.”
A recent survey by B&A for the Irish Hospice Foundation found that over half of Irish people admitted they struggle to know what to say to people about bereavement. In turn over half of people who had experienced a bereavement felt that others avoided some conversations out of fear of upsetting them.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Irish Hospice Foundation established a new Care & Inform hub on its website to provide a series of resources on grief and loss and to offer supports during the death and bereavement process. The Foundation has also produced a new policy paper on dying, death and bereavement which it has sent to all political parties, the government formation negotiators and the Dáil’s special COVID-19 committee.
Mr Paul Reid, CEO of the HSE said: “This has been a very difficult time for families and friends of people who have died in recent times. We want to support people during this time and I welcome the establishment of this support line that has been developed in association with the HSE. We would encourage people to seek support and information as they grieve and this support line can help families with very practical ways to cope”.
The bereavement support line is being supported by a national advertising campaign. Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny voiced a broadcast ad for the service.
He said “The Irish Hospice Foundation have unrivalled experience of dealing with grief. This new bereavement contact line will be of critical support to those most in need. I fully support this new initiative.”