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National bereavement charter launched to make Scotland 'confident in talking about death, dying and bereavement'

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National bereavement charter launched to make Scotland 'confident in talking about death, dying and bereavement'

Good bereavement care and support is a human right, a coalition of organisations say

A national bereavement charter has been launched by a coalition of organisations, with the goal of making Scottish society “more effective at supporting people to grieve”.

Good bereavement care is a human right, it says, and the right support “renews and restores, [gives] a sense of purpose and direction, and for many it is what has literally saved their lives.”

The charter contains 15 statements that describe what bereavement support should be like across areas of life including the home, workplace and wider community.

People should be “treated with compassion, empathy and kindness” and should have their “wishes, choices and beliefs listened to, considered and respected by all,” it says.

It describes Scotland as a country where there should be an “open culture” around grief, bereavement and death, where access to emotional, practical, financial, social and spiritual support is seen as a right.

The charter is aimed at both children and adults and includes additional advice for groups such as those with learning disabilities and degenerative neurological conditions, and those who have experienced pregnancy loss, stillbirth or neonatal death.

It also provides advice for those going through bereavement following suicide.

The charter was developed over a period of 18 months with contributions from NHS Education for Scotland, the Care Inspectorate, MND Scotland, Scottish Care, the universities of Glasgow, Northumbria and the West of Scotland, the NHS health boards of Fife and Greater Glasgow and Clyde and a range of bereavement and mental health charities.

It is hoped that it will be widely displayed in public places like shops, cafes, pubs, waiting rooms, public transport and venues.

CEO of Scottish Care Dr Donald Macaskill, who wrote the introduction to the charters, said: “The charter has one clear focus, and that is to help Scots come to terms with grief, with dying and with bereavement.

“Its aim is to have everybody talk about these subjects, wherever you happen to be and whomever you happen to be alongside.

“Sometimes we struggle with loss, with dying and with grief, so much so that we physically, literally cross the road in order to avoid somebody who may have experienced loss.

“The launch of this charter is in an extraordinarily uncertain time. The way we respond to those in our community who have lost a family member through COVID-19; the way we support each other, because there will be few of us who will not have been touched as a result of this pandemic, will be a mark of ourselves as a nation.

“So, I would encourage [everyone] to go online and look at the charter, to speak about it, to share its views and consider how you might use it.

“It is an attempt to have Scotland become a nation confident in talking about death, dying and bereavement.

“It’s an attempt to make sure we, all of us, support each other in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.”

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