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Losing a partner: the varying financial and practical impacts of bereavement in different sociodemographic groups
  1. Harriet Lancaster1 and
  2. Tom Johnson2
  1. 1 House of Lords, London, UK
  2. 2 Trajectory Ltd, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Harriet Lancaster, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW, UK; hvalancaster{at}


Objectives The purpose of this study was to describe the financial and practical impacts of the death of a life partner, up to 5 years after bereavement. The study compared the impact felt by different sociodemographic groups and evaluated the role of financial and caring organisations in improving these impacts.

Methods An evidence review of the subject area was conducted and a qualitative assessment of the target population (individuals whose partner had died in the past 3 years) was carried out using a semistructured interview (n=6). Subsequently, a multiple choice survey was constructed to collect data from a wider target population (individuals whose partner had died in the past 5 years) and covered topics including finances, interaction with organisations and management of daily tasks (n=500).

Results The results of the multiple choice survey have been interpreted here using basic descriptive statistical analysis. 69% of people who lost a partner were unprepared, either financially or practically, for bereavement. Women and those under the age of 50 experienced the most significant financial impact and practical changes continued beyond 3 years postbereavement. To manage this disruption, 61% of participants reported that they felt they needed more help from financial and caring organisations postbereavement.

Conclusions The results of this survey demonstrate some of the key struggles each demographic group faces immediately after bereavement and into the future. It is clear that preparation and bereavement support have a profound effect on mitigating the negative impacts seen here.

  • Bereavement
  • Financial
  • Palliative
  • Gender
  • Grief

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  • Contributors HL led the discussion and writing of this paper at all stages with input from the following contributors and collaborators. TJ, Director at Trajectory, performed all statistical analysis and preliminary evidence review. Paul Flatters, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Trajectory, worked with TJ to write and implement the interview discussion script for the initial qualitative assessment of the target population and the multiple choice survey. Toby Scott, Communications Manager for the NCPC and Dying Matters Coalition served as a bereavement advisor; Simon Cox, Proposition Lead, and Gary Beyer, Proposition Manager for The Royal London Group, both served as financial and life assurance advisors throughout the study.

  • Funding This study was commissioned and funded by The Royal London Group.

  • Competing interests This paper has been prepared to support the data collection and reporting commissioned by The Royal London Group for the ‘Losing a Partner’ project. HL was previously employed by the Dying Matters Coalition, a charity set up to promote public awareness of dying, death and bereavement. TJ is employed by Trajectory, who has supported The Royal London Group on a number of projects, including the ‘Losing a Partner’ project.

  • Ethics approval There were no aspects to this survey requiring ethics committee approval. All participants agreed to take part in the study and were notified of the intention to publish the results. All data have been reported anonymously in our analysis.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement All quantitative data can be obtained by contacting the corresponding author.