A NATIONAL bereavement charity has revealed how it is helping Scotland cope with loss during the pandemic.

More than 6700 people in Scotland have died following a positive coronavirus test since the crisis began.

The figure does not include deaths from other causes or of people who had not received a Covid check.

Cruse Scotland says calls to its freephone helpline have doubled in length since the summer as grieving friends and family seek additional help to deal with loss during lockdowns.

Currently no post-funeral gatherings are allowed and a maximum of 20 mourners are permitted at services.

On Friday, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman urged people to adhere to these following reports of breaches.

READ MORE: Covid in Scotland: Jeane Freeman issues funeral warning amid reports of rule breaches

Fiona Arnott-Barron, chief operating officer of Perth-based Cruse Scotland, says the organisation has had to undergo “great change” to help those suffering and cut off from standard forms of support – bringing in more volunteers, extending opening hours and offering both phone and video counselling sessions to meet demand.

She told the Sunday National: “The level of distress which callers are experiencing is very significant.

“Our volunteer workforce’s willingness to adapt as a result has been nothing short of remarkable.

“The distress of clients presenting to Cruse Scotland is undoubtedly impacted by the lack of normal rituals around hospital visiting, funeral arrangements, funerals and contact with friends and family.

“Even those who have been able to attend the funeral have had to make difficult decisions about who should attend and the normal supports before and after the service are absent.”

The comments come one day after end-of-life charity Marie Curie unveiled plans for a day of reflection to remember those who have died during the pandemic and show support for the bereaved.

The National:

It will be held on March 23 to commemorate the start of the first UK lockdown, with a minute’s silence at noon.

They also come after Tory MSP Jeremy Balfour asked the Scottish Government “for what reason 20 guests are permitted at a funeral during the current lockdown, but not at a wedding”.

In a written response on Thursday, Community Safety Minister Ash Denham said: “Funeral services are an essential part of the bereavement process and vital part of people’s wellbeing. They cannot be delayed.

“Our decision on marriage ceremonies reflects that the right to marry is an important one, but also that a wedding can be postponed if a couple want a wedding with more people attending.

“The current restrictions give couples who want to get married now the chance to do that, whilst minimising the risks of transmission at the marriage ceremonies that do proceed.”

Announcing the day of reflection plan, Marie Curie chief executive Matthew Reed said: “We cannot simply stand by and not recognise the effects the pandemic has had on the bereaved.

The National:

“We know people are in shock, confused, upset, angry and unable to process what has happened. We invite everyone to join together on March 23 to reflect, remember and celebrate the lives of everyone that has died during these challenging times – from Covid and other causes.”

To contact Cruse Scotland, phone 0808 802 6161 9am-8pm from Mon-Fri and 1pm-4pm at weekends