Bereavement and grief can be difficult to deal with at any time let alone in this current climate when countries all over the world are taking action to control the Coronavirus pandemic.
There are constant references to death and dying in all forms of media, which can increase difficult feelings and anxiety for people in their current situation or bring back memories of past bereavements and even a fear of dying yourself.
We are hearing that people who were bereaved before the pandemic are experiencing additional distress as the new life they were beginning to carve out for themselves has had to be put on hold. The strategies for coping without their loved one that had been put in place invariably included socialising, joining new groups and building their support network. The pandemic has created an additional loss and for many, a sense of going backwards in their grief rather than forwards.
For those who are about to or have very recently been bereaved, the situation is causing additional significant distress. The way treatment is being delivered has changed; infection control may mean that family members cannot spend time with someone who is dying, or say goodbye in person. Funerals may be disrupted or delayed with numbers of mourners looking to attend restricted. The opportunity to formally celebrate the life or just say goodbye being restricted is difficult to deal with for some. Some funeral directors can help with a webcast or live streaming of the funeral. Some people have held their own act of memorial at the same time but at home, such as playing favourite music or lighting a candle. The Government website gives you up to date information on any restrictions on funerals here.
These changes can give rise to feelings like anger, guilt, blame and even shock at the speed of events leading to death. Where many people are isolated because of restrictions this could make feelings of grief and loneliness more intense, making it harder to process what has happened. The mental health charity MIND can provide useful information to help with emotional wellbeing.
The person who died may have been a partner, parent or carer and the bereaved may be left without practical or emotional support at a time when they need it most. The Mental Health Foundation provides useful information to help look after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Children and young people can be affected by what is going on around them, picking up on worries about Coronavirus and easing up of restrictions as well as worrying about their ill or dying relative. Winston's Wish provides information, advice and guidance on supporting bereaved children and young people during the Coronavirus pandemic.
What can be done to help in this situation?
- Remember that it is okay to ask for help. Talking about how you feel, remembering someone who has died and sharing memories with those close to you can help. This can be done by various means if you or they are isolating. Keep in regular contact with others using the phone, text or internet if available. Cruse provides resources to help via their website.
- Talk honestly with children about facts and emotions and make it an ongoing conversation.
Coming to terms with your emotions and feelings will take time and may be difficult but talking with someone you trust will help.
- Look after yourself. Try to get some exercise and fresh air every day. Physical activity can help with trying to ensure you get decent sleep to give you the strength to deal with each day. Try to keep to a regular routine of getting up and meal times
- If you would like support in your bereavement and your loved one was known to the hospice, please call our bereavement line on 0117 915 9454 to speak to us during the hours of 8am and 4pm, Monday-Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) or leave a message outside of these hours and someone will return your call
- If you find yourself in a state of distress and would like to speak with someone, please call our advice line on 0117 915 9430