FAMILIES losing loved ones during COVID-19 are experiencing trauma on a scale not seen in Scotland since the Dunblane primary school massacre, according to a leading bereavement counselling charity.

PETAL Support, which has been helping people cope with trauma resulting from murder or suicide for the last 25 years, is extending its service during the current pandemic thanks to a funding boost from the Scottish Government Wellbeing Fund.

Lead therapist Fin Collins said: “The situation facing people who lose a loved one during COVID-19 is surreal – normal support networks are not there. They are worried and grieving, and under normal circumstances would have family and friends beside them to comfort them.

“In many years of working as a psychiatric nurse and therapist, I have never seen anything like what people are experiencing – it is intense, on a scale similar to what happened after the Dunblane primary school massacre, affecting everyone across the country.

“It is worrying but with the right support, people will get through this. It’s great that we have been given this funding to allow us to extend our services, and of course, our core service – supporting families who have lost someone to murder or suicide – will continue.”

Fin, a qualified psychiatric nurse and lecturer, is based in Hamilton. PETAL Support also has offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“This strange shutdown world is an alien place for people,” he added.

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“Add to that the sudden loss of someone close to you, who just a few days or weeks ago developed a cough, ended up on a ventilator in hospital and has died.

“The impact of that trauma is huge.”

He added: “Now that lockdown restrictions are being eased to some extent, it looks like we are moving in a positive direction, but people still feel very isolated.”

The Wellbeing Fund was established to support organisations across the third sector which are providing important services to people who are most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

It forms part of a £350 million funding package from the Scottish Government.

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PETAL Support is providing a network of qualified and highly experienced counsellors across Scotland to help people process their grief and loss via telephone or online services.

Families facing bereavement from COVID-19, murder, culpable homicide and suicide can call 01698 324502 or visit the website petalsupport.com.