How the pandemic affects grief and bereavement

The world is in crisis. However, the bereaved have already experienced their own individual crisis. Their lives have already been turned upside down. For them, some of what others are now experiencing is very familiar – they know only too well how fragile life is.

Those of us who are grieving have already experienced the panic and the loss of stability that we now see amongst non-grievers. Everyone’s lives have now changed and become restricted – but the bereaved may have lived with this for months or years. For them, the worst has already happened…

Grief in the time of Coronavirus can be confusing. It’s possible that grief may become complex or frozen whilst the new situation is adapted to. Prioritising the fundamentals of life, such as protecting our health, avoiding infection and finding food, can mean we put grieving on hold – as this pyramid demonstrates…

For others, it may make their grief more painful and difficult to bear because of the media’s constant focus on death. There may be insensitive and triggering images used on Social Media and posts with titles such as ‘Are you suffering from grief for the life you used to lead?’ Whilst people may equate the loss of their temporary freedom and cancelled plans with grief, it pales into comparison with the actual grief many are suffering as a result of this virus or by those of us already coping with a significant loss. It can feel insulting and upsetting to see true, life changing grief minimised in this way.

In addition, if you are already in the midst of grief, you may find those who were supporting you are, maybe understandably, there for you less now. They have their own needs to prioritise, their own fears of potentially losing those they love. Grief can feel isolating at the best of times but now it may feel even more so. Empathy for those already bereaved is perhaps currently thinner on the ground.

To lose someone during this pandemic must be extremely painful. To not be with someone you love whilst they are dying is going to be heart breaking. Some of us who are bereaved can identify with how hard it is not to be with someone when they die. However, being unable to hold the funeral you would like, in order to honour your loved one, is something entirely new for most people, as is the absence of the physical presence of friends and extended family just when this is most needed. Our hearts undoubtedly go out to those who have to experience this.

It’s a very challenging time for everyone but so much more so for those for whom the worst has actually happened. If you are in the midst of grieving or have recently lost someone to the virus, please seek ways to support yourself, especially if you think you might be suffering from PTSD. I am currently writing a book on how to support the grieving process where I recommend many methods and options for doing this.

For me personally, what helps most is writing a journal about my feelings around loss, walking, support groups such as The Compassionate Friends, reading (on grief and what happens after death), plus yoga and meditation. For some, counselling may be helpful (see Cruse Bereavement ). I offer grief mentoring and coaching, providing gentle pro-active support for living with loss.

Would you like help and support with grief, emotional wellbeing, anxiety, stress, low mood, hormonal imbalances, sleep disturbances or fatigue? If so, please contact me: vanessa@wellbeingandnutrition.co.uk