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 National Federation of Undertakers can provide up to date information.
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 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.