COVID-19 and bereavement

Additional support for students and staff dealing with loss as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has and will continue to result in the substantial loss of life across many countries including the UK. It is anticipated that the University of Plymouth community will, in all likelihood, also experience loss of life which brings the support, advice and guidance available for bereaved people and those caring for them into sharp focus.

A death from COVID-19 may mean that there has been or will be:

  • little time to prepare for a loved one’s death following a period of illness due to COVID-19
  • no time spent with a loved one before they died due to the risk of infection and social distancing rules
  • an inability to say goodbye after death due to restrictions around attending funerals, public gatherings and travel
  • isolation issues as people may be grieving while separated from family and friends who may also be grieving but in other locations
  • practical challenges, for example if the person bereaved was previously receiving care from someone who has died and/or they have responsibilities to care for others or have ongoing work or family responsibilities
  • issues around coping with a shocking bereavement at a time when the bereaved person, or others in their circle of family and friends, may also be ill with COVID-19.
Copyright Sudden 2020

Are you experiencing bereavement?
Bereavement sometimes also referred to as grief, is a term used to describe the sense of loss felt when someone close to us or who we care about dies. It can be difficult and stressful and nearly everybody goes through it at some point in their lives. Whatever the circumstances for your loss, we are sorry that you have lost someone close to you or someone you care about. At a time like this, it’s natural to feel sad, depressed, worried or angry. Everyone reacts differently and it is important that each individual is able to manage their loss in their own way. You might not feel anything for a while, and may experience delayed grief. Delayed grief can happen at any time and these feelings might catch you off-guard, when you least expect it. There are people who can help you through this difficult time and will be on hand to signpost you to the support you may need.

Are you caring for someone who is bereaved?
Because bereavement from covid-19 is a such a challenging kind of bereavement, it is really important that people bereaved in this situation, are cared for early on. If you are caring for someone who has been bereaved it is important to know how to help them as best you can, and how to look after your own well-being too.

However you are experiencing bereavement whether directly or by caring for a bereaved person these resources are here to help you negotiate the next steps in your journey.

Bereavement support for students

Student Hub

A central point of advice and support to ensure that students maximise their university experience and overcome any difficulties they may encounter.

Our friendly, confidential and impartial team of dedicated advisers are here to help, no issue is too big and no question is too small.  

Student Hub
telephone: +44(0)1752 587676  

Loss and bereavement e-resources

SHINE at Plymouth provides a wealth of student friendly e-resources providing support on everything from addiction to anxiety, depression to self harm and loss and bereavement.

Information and resources relating to loss, bereavement and grief include videos on and about dealing with grief, links to bereavement resources and details of services and charities that can provide practical support.

SHINE loss and bereavement resources

Pastoral and spiritual support

We are a team of volunteer chaplains and faith advisers who are university staff offering pastoral and spiritual support to staff and students at the university. The team is led by our pastoral and spiritual support coordinator Revd Jonathon Ross-McNairn, who is supported by faith advisors from the Jewish, Islamic, Catholic, Hindu, Humanist, Buddhist, Orthodox and Quaker communities.

University bereavement officers

Specially trained bereavement officers are available to speak to students following the death of another student.

They can provide listening and compassionate support and signpost to ongoing counselling and mental health support, services and charities outside the university, as well as to online resources. The Bereavement Officers work closely with Revd Jonathon Ross-McNairn to ensure students are supported after a bereavement.

For further information contact the Student Hub
telephone: +44(0)1752 587676 

UPSU advice

The Student Advice Centre is here to support you through your time at University. As a member of the Students' Union, you can access the advice centre for free support with a variety of issues.

The Student Advice Centre is continuing to work to support our students throughout this unprecedented and difficult situation. although the office is closed, we are still accessible via email

Are you worried about your studies?

If you are a student who is experiencing bereavement, it is important to try and talk to your personal tutor or one of your School or academic staff if you are worried about your studies. They will want to support you through this difficult time and ensure that your studies and your coursework do not put you under additional pressure.

The University of Plymouth has published a special webpage, Advice for students following the impact of coronavirus on teaching and learning, intended to keep everyone updated on the evolving situation and the University’s response based on the latest available information and guidance from the UK Government.

The webpage contains the latest guidance for students by way of a series of FAQs relating to teaching and learning and also the University’s new Safety Net Policy. This new policy has been introduced to ensure that as long as students successfully achieve all of their modules, they will not do any worse than the position they were in as of 16 March 2020. It also provides the opportunity to improve grades should students achieve higher marks in the summative assessments undertaken after 16 March 2020 when the emergency measures in relation to COVID-19 were put in place.

It may however be the case that this webpage and the FAQs have not given you the necessary assurance you are looking for. If this is the case, you should make contact with either your personal tutor or your faculty office.

The faculty offices can be contacted as follows:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business
Call +44 (0) 1752 585020 or email

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Call +44 (0) 1752 584584 or email

Faculty of Health
Call +44 (0)1752 585332 (Plymouth Drake Circus); or 
+44 (0)1752 588833 (Plymouth PAHC); or
+44 (0)1872 256450 (Truro); or
+44 (0) 1752 437397 (Medicine and Dentistry); or
Email or (Medicine and Dentistry).

Bereavement support for staff

Care First: employee assistant programme

The University’s Employee Assistance Programme, provided by Care First, offers an easily accessible 24/7 helpline. To speak to a consultant/counsellor call 0808 168 2143 and they will be able to help and support you.

Care First also provides online services with access to a range of resources, including:

  • information and advice on bereavement
  • counselling
  • critical/traumatic incident responses
  • stress management programmes
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • health and wellbeing
Details of how to access the Employee Assistance programme

University staff grief and bereavement network

The University staff grief and bereavement network is a peer support and discussion group and although their regular support meetings have been suspended, their web-page provides some useful help, guidance, resources and links to support services.

Staff can also join a Facebook private group which offers peer-led support, advice, discussion and resourcing for staff who are experiencing loss and bereavement. You can find it at Grief and Bereavement Network at Plymouth University.

Pastoral and spiritual support

We are a team of volunteer chaplains and faith advisers who are university staff offering pastoral and spiritual support to staff and students at the university. The team is led by our pastoral and spiritual support coordinator Revd Jonathon Ross-McNairn, who is supported by faith advisors from the Jewish, Islamic, Catholic, Hindu, Humanist, Buddhist, Orthodox and Quaker communities.

Helplines offering bereavement support

Cruse Bereavement Care Devon

Free helpline +44 (0)808 808 1677 offering advice, information and support to adults, young people and children who are struggling to cope with grief. 

Cruse Bereavement Care Devon

The Bereavement Trust

The Bereavement Trust - free helpline 0800 435 455 (18:00 to 22:0 every day) offering support and practical advice about bereavement.

Hope Again

Hope Again is Cruse Bereavement Care’s website for young people with information, vlogs, podcasts, videos and sharing personal stories.

Free helpline: 44 (0)808 808 1677 (Mon-Fri 09:30-17:00).

Other bereavement resources

WAY Widowed and Young
WAY is a UK charity that offers a peer-to-peer support network for anyone who's lost a partner before their 51st birthday – married or not, with or without children, whatever their sexual orientation.

NHS Choices
Grief after bereavement or loss - has information about how to cope and mental health and wellbeing. 

What's Your Grief?
What's Your Grief? offers an online supportive community, resources and discussion about grief.

The Good Grief Trust
The Good Grief Trust offers support and resources by others who have been bereaved.

The LOSS Foundation has a short video describing the stages of grief – Phases of Grief


Child Bereavement UK offer an app for 11-25-year-olds who have been bereaved of someone important to them. It can also be used by friends, teachers, parents, and professionals who would like to know how to support bereaved young people - find out more..

Calm offer an app to help you manage your mood in the grief process with meditation. 

Bereavement counselling

Bereavement Counselling Service Plymouth – offers bereavement counselling addressing the problems of traumatic loss and bereavement.

Cruse Bereavement Care Devon provide free bereavement counselling.