Bereavement during lockdown
In times when we feel isolated, the yearning and longing for the person to return may be heightened.
Grief is often portrayed as one feeling, but it includes a range of emotions and reactions, which affect how we think and how we behave. Although extremely painful, grief is a healthy normal response to any loss and is a way of helping us heal.
It is helpful to acknowledge that part of the grieving process is to experience the painful feelings associated with loss. We experience grief because we have experienced love.
How we make sense and adjust to a significant loss is a very individual process.
Each person will cope in their own way and there is no ‘correct’ way to grieve. How we respond to death may depend on the nature of our relationship to the person that has died as well as family, social, cultural and spiritual beliefs.
You may be struggling to accept the reality of the loss you are facing due to worry or fear for what lies ahead. There may be ongoing worry about your own health, or for other family members concerning Covid-19 infection.
Allow yourself space to be with the feelings you are experiencing.
Sometimes you may find it useful to talk with someone about your feelings, such as a phone call or video call with a friend, family member or professional. Sometimes you may just want to be alone with your feelings.
It helps to accept the feelings we experience and to name our grief.
When we welcome, recognise and accept that pain and grief are a healthy response to loss, we can acknowledge and be true to our experiences.
The grieving process is not consistent or linear; it can change daily or from moment to moment. One day, things may feel more manageable and the next overwhelming.
It may gradually feel more manageable but even years later we can be triggered by anniversaries, a piece of music, a smell or some other reminder of the person that has died.
Social Connections are important.
Shock and disbelief are common emotional responses after a death, but these feelings may be heightened during the pandemic, when you may not have the opportunity to see your loved one at the time of death or afterwards. The loss may have been caused due to the pandemic which may result in feelings of anger and a sense it was untimely, even if expected.
Individuals may not have had the funerals they wished for because of the restrictions that are in place. They may not have the service or memorial you felt they deserved.
Talking with friends and family can be one of the most helpful ways to cope after someone close to us dies. Sharing stories and hearing others’ memories of loved ones is still possible remotely; it may be helpful to set up a memorial page online or join an online bereavement support group during this time.
Finding new ways to communicate may feel like an additional burden when you already feel exhausted and overwhelmed. However, it is worth pursuing these new ways of contact, as they can help to keep you connected with your loved ones or others in similar situations.
It is important to listen to and attend to your feelings, take care of yourself, and seek support.
Make some time to care for yourself.
Grief affects not just our emotional wellbeing, but can have an impact on physical health as well. You may notice changes in your sleep and appetite. It is normal to feel tired, often simply because of the intense emotions and stress experienced. While this may increase your need for sleep, you may struggle to have an uninterrupted night’s rest. Sometimes we fear of sleeping because waking up is like being bereaved all over again. It is important to remember the body and to treat your body with kindness and care at this time.
Remember to be kind and compassionate to yourself and to reach out for support when you need it.