Labour frontbencher Rosena Allin-Khan has paid a moving tribute to her late father as she urged ministers to ensure no one grieves alone.
The Shadow Mental Health Minister said her father Mohammad Aslam Khan was “incredibly strong and brave until his very last breath” in an emotional speech to MPs.
Her father, who had dementia, is understood to have passed away in a care home in recent days after a complication from his illness.
Dr Allin-Khan has previously spoken of her heartbreak at not being able to visit her elderly dad during the pandemic due to Covid restrictions.
She told the Mirror of her fears that he would think his family had simply stopped visiting him, and expressed concern that it was difficult for his carers to communicate with him as he could no longer talk.
In the Commons, the Tooting MP said: “Not only was he a keen cricketer and an amazing dancer, he was a champion for equality.
“He was incredibly strong and brave until his very last breath and he shall be missed beyond measure.”
Her comments came as the UK’s coronavirus death toll exceeded 150,000 since the start of the pandemic.
Dr Allin-Khan said the virus had “stripped the humanity out of grieving”, leaving millions unable to attend funerals, to say their last goodbyes or to comfort their loved ones after a death.
She urged ministers to review vital extra funding for mental health organisations, which came to an end on April 1.
“Will the minister please consider reviewing this vital funding immediately to ensure no-one has to go through bereavement alone,” she said.
Health minister Nadine Dorries paid tribute to “her brave words about her much missed father”.
“Politics divides us but grief across this House on all sides for many reasons unites us and I have personally declared to (her) that I am here should she need me and I pay tribute to her bravery for being here today so soon after the loss of her wonderful father,” she said.
“I hear her request and it’s constantly under review. Bereavement services are incredibly important to me personally, but to many of us – and the £10.2 million which she mentioned – there are 700 bereavement charities of which The Good Grief Trust is one, we monitor carefully how people access bereavement services.
“We know there is an increased need at the moment and that is being watched very carefully, but she is incredibly brave.”