The COVID pandemic has left the world grief stricken as we mourn the loss of loved ones, while social distancing and isolating ourselves. Our new blog discusses how COVID has changed the way we grieve now, and how to support ourselves and others during this difficult time.
Read Time: 4 Mins
As COVID-19 continues to change our lives from how we work, to how we shop and exercise, the pandemic has brought with it a death toll of over 40,000 within the UK, and over 400,000 globally. Through isolation and social distancing, we have been able to reduce the rate of infection with many countries shutting down to contain the spread, but for some this was unfortunately not enough. Without an effective antibiotic or cure available, many families have had to say goodbye to their loved ones before their time. The world is grief-stricken.
People are unable to see family members in hospital due to contamination risks, nor attend funerals, as strict guidelines make the organisation of a perfect send-off almost impossible.
Within the UK, our adherence of the 2-meter social distancing guideline has also changed the support grieving people receive. A comforting hug, or coffee shop chat is now unattainable, leaving many feeling isolated and alone.
Though experts predict the world to ‘bounce back’ once the virus is under control, grief, however, is a transcendent emotional journey that requires time, care and most importantly support.
For many experiencing the grief of losing a loved one, COVID has also brought with it job uncertainly and other wavering factors that are out of our control. The process of saying goodbye to a loved one is a very personal and controllable action which many of us perform in our own way. Some pray, while others distance themselves as an act of clarity, there is no right way to say goodbye, but COVID has changed this. Now we must depart from our prefered method and perform something new.
Understandably this is a daunting act to perform, as many will feel as though they have not truly said goodbye until it has been done in a way that makes them feel complete. This is not true. Grief and saying goodbye has no deadline. Saying goodbye in a temporary way until you are able to do it properly is understandable, and most importantly right. The person who has passed knew of your love for them and a slight delay in time will not change this affection.
The pandemic also comes with its leniencies. People have more time to grieve without feeling pressured by work or their social life, and they have more time to be alone, understanding how they feel. No one is expecting a grieving person to ‘bounce back’ and revert to their life before COVID.
You have time to grieve. This, of course, does not mean that once the pandemic is under control you can no longer grieve. Instead, it means you have been given time to breathe. Take each day as it comes, doing one thing each day that makes you feel better. This could be going for a walk, or listening to your favourite song. Whatever it is as you grieve you must also make time for yourself.
The different types of grief
Grieve comes in many forms and for those of us who want to ‘get on with our lives’ maintaining a regular schedule can be difficult. Difficult but not impossible. The routine you perform does not have to encompass the life you had before COVID, instead it can be something new. For example, waking up, exercising or taking the dog for a walk, making and eating breakfast, catching up on emails, reading the news, listening to music, having lunch, going out for a walk, doing a new activity or art venture, calling friends, eating dinner and so on. This type of routine is just as acceptable as the routine you performed before. The most important part of the routine focused strategy is that you have something to look forward to, or something to fill your time with. These little activities are so important, not only for your grieving process but for your mental health. Treating yourself to some me-time is not selfish but necessary after losing a loved one.
Where to find support
As previously mentioned, many people who have lost a loved one are feeling more alone than ever due to social distancing restrictions. These restrictions however do not encompass the digital and social world we all take part in. Joining Facebook groups, talking to online councillors and calling helplines are all there to help you during this difficult time. Even if you simply wish to have a one-off call, The Samaritans are there for you.
We at Live On are also here to help you with regular article updates on how to process loss, the stages of loss and more, offering more resources like books and films that help you on your own personal journey.
Visit our Helpful Websites page for links to helplines and other centres. There’s no shame in asking for help.