Good grief: companies combine humanity and technology to help the newly bereaved

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Good grief: companies combine humanity and technology to help the newly bereaved

A growing number of online platforms are using AI to offer compassionate support for people and workplaces

As the old adage goes, the only certainties in life are death and taxes; yet, when it comes to the former, the support and resources available for helping people navigate grief and bereavement are significantly underserved.

About three million people are bereaved in the UK each year, and each month 100,000 people type into Google, “what to do when someone dies”.

We are seeing the growth of a number of companies trying to tackle this gap by harnessing technology to provide comprehensive and compassionate bereavement support for individuals and workplaces.

Among them is the UK-based tech-for-good startup Untangle, which emotionally, practically and socially supports the bereaved through its app, and Empathy, an end-to-end grief support company aimed at changing how the world deals with, perceives and approaches loss.

The global market for grief and bereavement technology is growing rapidly – currently estimated at around £22bn in the UK alone, the global deathcare services market is estimated to reach $18bn (around £150bn) by 2030, as more people turn to digital solutions to help them cope with loss and connect with supportive resources.


When Emily Cummin’s grandpa passed away in 2016, she felt lonely and overwhelmed as she helped her mum wade through confusing and complex admin.

Struggling to find the right support, she decided to leave her job advising startups to build one of her own to help people navigate life after loss.

Cummin’s AI driven Untangle Grief app is a one-stop-shop that supports people through and after a bereavement, including all the financial, legal, practical and emotional challenges.

Launched in early 2021, Untangle currently has a community of over half a million people in 138 countries – the UK and the US are the largest markets. The platform uses AI to provide personalised content, care and coaching. In the first quarter of this year, the business reached over 31 million people across its social platforms and has been socially prescribed in several NHS regions. Untangle recently launched with Cruse Bereavement Support, the UK’s leading bereavement charity, to enable employers to support their employees going through grief, and has also secured its first corporate client.

TV personality Davina McCall applauded Untangle on her Making The Cut podcast. She said: “If you love someone and have lost someone, Untangle is your place.”

Untangle founder Emily Cummin pitching at London Tech Week earlier this month

Cummin, 31, tells the Jewish News: “When my grandpa died, it was a very difficult time.

“I was 24 and supporting my mum and my grandma and I didn’t know where to go for support and what advice to trust. I was grieving and it felt very sad and emotional.

I felt that, although we are all going to go through one of these (grief) events in our life, there was no one place for people to get all the support they need. Yes, there are charities, but long waiting lists can make bereavement support hard to access.”

Cummin, who last month won the London regional final at Tech Nation’s Rising Stars and earlier this month pitched at London Tech Week 2024, has already secured investment from Innovate UK, Zinc VC and Redbus, the investment group started by entrepreneur Simon Franks, founder of LOVEFiLM, and is currently crowdfunding to further develop the product and help to take the business to profitability.

Chief medical officer of the Oxford NHS Trust Dr Karl Marlow and the former CEO of GreenAcres Group and managing director of Co Op Funeralcare Richard Gomersall are among Untangle’s industry advisers.

“I’ve always believed in it and I know there is a big £100bn market opportunity. I have seen it firsthand,” says Cummin.

“Everyone I talk to has said that they wished there was something like this when they were going through it [a bereavement].”

Cummin, who has a background in business strategy, says Untangle started as a community support WhatsApp group for bereaved people who used it as a helpline.

“I knew the need was there and the market is finally ready to talk about this sensitive taboo issue and use technology to get bereavement support online. Yes, using tech for grief might feel a bit uncomfortable but we are at a point now where we trust technology – we use it for online shopping, banking and other admin.”

Untangle uses AI to create personalised plans for people. “When people die, they often feel like they have lost the support and have loads of admin. We want to flip that around. You don’t have to work out what you need to do – we can send you those specific needs week by week and tell you what to do. But the emotional support is all through peers, and tailored coping tools such as mindfulness activities or breathing exercises. The AI just works out when is the right time to send them the right exercise.”

Cummin has plans to introduce more products to support people going through other major life events such as divorce. It is a challenge to build a business in a very emotional space but I find it so rewarding. And there’s no tension for me between profit and purpose, as I know people are already spending money in this space. We want to make sure that people have all the help they need.”


Empathy offers full-circle support for all the emotional and logistical challenges faced by bereaved families, from probate and estate settlement to grief and interpersonal conflict.

Empathy was founded in 2021 by Ron Gura and Yonatan Bergman – the duo had previously worked together at WeWork, and before that, at the Gifts Project, which, founded by Gura, was acquired by eBay in 2011. Their goal: to change how the world deals with, perceives and approaches loss.

Combining human care, supercharged by technology, Empathy’s award-winning app and care team provide bereaved families with a holistic and personalised support system to help with all the administrative, emotional, legal and financial challenges they face, as well as care resources to support people through the grieving process. Empathy is offered by employers and life insurance providers to employees and beneficiaries, who are able to access the full range of Empathy services for free.

Empathy is eyeing up expansion into other locations, including the UK and Europe, as soon as next year

The company, which supports 40 million people across the US, has raised $90m to date, from Index Ventures, General Catalyst, Entrée Capital, Aleph, Latitude, Brewer Lane and Primetime Partners. Empathy has also received strategic investments from major life insurance carriers and prominent angel investors.

Ron Gura, co-founder of Empathy

Gura tells Jewish News: “At a young age we lost my brother and it had a significant impact on me and my family. Beyond the emotional toll it took on me, it also sparked a deep interest in grief and loss and how we support those things for different people and different cultures.”

Years later, while working at eBay and helping a colleague navigate the loss of a loved one, Gura was struck by all the other complexities, outside of the emotional toll, that came with loss. “In watching him manage funeral planning, navigate probate, struggle through claim benefits. I realised that there were very few tools or support systems out there to help individuals through this difficult time in their lives.” So Gura teamed up with Bergman to build a company that helps individuals manage all the aspects that come with loss and remove as many of the logistical burdens as possible.

Currently based in the US, Empathy is eyeing up expansion into other locations, including the UK and Europe, as soon as next year.

Gura says that over the past decade, there has been a shift in people’s attitudes towards grief, particularly when it comes to those in the workplace experiencing bereavement. “We’re living in an era where boundaries between professional and personal life are increasingly blurred. Employees bring their whole selves to work, and what happens outside the office can have a direct impact on their productivity and wellbeing, and vice verca.

“Employers and life insurance carriers are realising that this shift is happening. They’re seeing first hand that people’s emotional wellbeing is as crucial to their work performance as their skill set, and as a result are investing in solutions that actively support the multifaceted challenges of life for employees and their families.”

The life insurance market in the US alone is projected to reach $3.67 trillion by 2024 and the financial wellness benefits market is poised to surge to $1.89 billion by 2028.

“When you take into consideration that grief-related losses in productivity in the workforce cost an estimated $100 billion each year in the US, I expect demand for bereavement care to grow even more as companies try to find ways to holistically support their employees and invest in solutions that will have a positive impact on their bottom line.”

Empathy will used its latest fundraising ($47m) to continue to enhance its platform, including building new offerings to meet individuals wherever they are in their grief journey.

“Taking a broader look at the industry, we see a massive potential for further change in the end-of-life sector. We’re already seeing this play out with our strong partner and customer base, and we expect to see more employers and life insurance carriers sign on to provide our services to their employees and beneficiaries. We also believe that we’re going to see a cultural and societal shift in how we show up for and care for those experiencing loss. Collectively, we have an opportunity to shake up bereavement care in the U.S. and beyond.”


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