According to Rev. Maureen E. Steer, Chaplain/Bereavement Coordinator at Cornerstone VNA, grief during COVID-19 compounds an already overwhelming grief that someone dealing with loss is experiencing. The entire world is grieving. Each person is dealing with the loss of the ability to come and go as we are used to. We are grieving human contact and the ability to socialize. We are grieving the flow of life as we knew it. The advice for someone grieving is to ‘go out, be social, don’t stay in your house all day, see your family and friends’. People who are grieving now are forced to do exactly the opposite of what is normally recommended. If it feels heavier, it is. It’s not just you and you are not alone.
If you have lost a loved one to COVID-19, you might be left with regret because you could not be there to support your loved one in their final moments. This was beyond your control due to the global pandemic and restrictions imposed because of it. You were not able to access the normal grief ritual, a period of saying goodbye after the person has passed away. Because COVID-19 is a highly contagious illness, large gatherings to celebrate the deceased and comfort the mourning were not permitted. Social distancing did not permit a funeral, memorial gathering, or another religious service.
Articles on Grieving During COVID-19
- Grieving During the Coronavirus: Advice From a Clinical Psychologist from the Dana Farber Institute
- American Psychological Association on Grief and COVID-19: Saying goodbye in the age of physical distancing
- CNBC: How to cope with grief during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Harvard School of Public Health & Columbia University School of Social Work: Managing Bereavement around the Coronavirus
Tips for Caring for You
Not being able to spend time with loved ones after a loss can make it more difficult to come to terms with the reality of death. One of the greatest challenges of grieving in the age of COVID-19 is the isolation that the disease creates. Here are some tools to help care for you while you are grieving a loss during the pandemic:
- Acknowledge that grieving at this time is more challenging than coping with loss outside of a health crisis. You have additional sources of stress to contend with, so you must practice self-compassion and self-care. Here are some helpful self care ideas.
- Staying connected to others is very important if you are grieving and socially isolated. Agree on times with people in advance so you are more likely to follow through with connecting with them via phone, or zoom or FaceTime.
- Take time to look at photos of your loved one and remember good times. Also spend time on hobbies and walking outside.
- This Mourner’s Bill of Rights outlines ways to help your grief journey.
Above all, remember to be gentle on yourself. This is not an easy time for anyone, and having the loss of a loved one can seem insurmountable. You have support, we are here if you need us, and you are not alone.
To review additional COVID-19 resources, and to learn about Cornerstone VNA’s response to this pandemic, click here.