As we move through life, we naturally experience more loss. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges, for people and society. We are facing a tragic loss of life, often under very difficult circumstances.
If you have been bereaved by COVID-19, it is of the utmost importance you look after yourself and receive the right support, in order to cope at this very challenging time.
A COVID-19 bereavement can be difficult. It may mean there was little time to prepare during the short illness of a loved one, no time to spend with them beforehand due to a risk of infection, an inability to say ‘goodbye’ fully due to limited social gatherings, practical challenges and other family members also ill with COVID-19.
At the moment, many of us need to self-isolate, resulting in feeling cut off from friends and family. Being alone often means that feelings of grief and loneliness are exacerbated and we are without anyone to share our feelings with. We may experience painful memories if we have to stay in the same place as the person who died. It can be harder to deal with grief whilst also worrying about the Coronavirus situation.
Early self-care, care from those immediately around us and others too, can mean that in time, it’s easier to make a recovery with good mental health. Contact with others may take the form of telephone, text, video call or e-mail during the pandemic.
Normal grief manifestations include: sadness, shock, disbelief, anger, guilt and self-reproach, anxiety, loneliness, numbness, fatigue, helplessness, yearning, feeling frightened/panicky, a sense of “if only”, relief (especially if the loved one suffered), confusion, forgetfulness, dreams of the deceased and crying. Physical symptoms include: hollowness, oversensitivity to noise, breathlessness, weakness in muscles, a lightness in the chest & face, feeling jumpy, tense, restless, a loss of appetite and an inability to sleep well.
Healthy grieving can be seen as a form of preventative medicine. Without it, we inevitably suffer from psychosomatic symptoms, such as depression, physical ailments and in the case of a traumatic bereavement, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
While many cultures have rituals to help people formally acknowledge and express their grief, here in the UK we seem to lack the explicit mourning rituals which help deal with loss.
Grief work is a path to health and serenity. There are various stages of mourning and reactions do not necessarily follow a particular sequence, but can alternate rapidly in any order. Grieving takes time and is a unique experience, do not feel guilty if you are struggling.
If you are experiencing challenging thoughts and feelings, you may need to seek help from a qualified Counsellor. Counselling supports you through your grieving process and offers rituals to help deal with your grief, whilst you mourn the loss of your loved one.
It may be helpful to know that other people bereaved in sudden and distressing ways have gone on to lead full and happy lives, whilst still honouring the loss of their loved one.
The fully trained Counsellors at the Crescent Practice are here to help, contact us today for professional support. You do not need to grieve alone.