Living life with loss during a Coronavirus pandemic

Living life with loss during a Coronavirus pandemic

Grief is an intensely personal experience and each person will react to a death in different ways. There are no real rights or wrongs and no set time frames in which we grieve.

There may be an initial period of shock and numbness which can sometimes help us to cope with all the arrangements and practicalities that need to be attended to in the first few weeks.

It is common to experience a whole range of intense emotions that can feel as if they come and go in waves.

Traditionally, at times of bereavement or during other times of great tragedy and loss we seek to come together to offer comfort, solidarity and support for one another. With the advent of coronavirus this is often no longer possible as many of us are now being required to self-isolate, or cope with sudden separation as loved ones are admitted to hospital. Many families are no longer able to maintain the care and contact that they would have wished for at this most difficult and uncertain of times.

Families and friends are finding themselves being prevented from coming together to help plan their loved one’s funeral, perhaps finding that they are unable to deliver the wishes of the person who has died. In some circumstances, this may mean they are not able to adhere to important religious or cultural observances after a death. Extended and close family members and friends who are in vulnerable groups are being discouraged or prevented from attending the funeral itself. Traditional rituals of celebrating and honouring a treasured life and saying goodbye are now being delayed or denied to us, with those often most needing support finding themselves self-isolating at home.

During the early days and weeks following a bereavement many of us feel somewhat disorientated as we struggle to comprehend our loss and what it means to us. At this time, we are often not sure what steps need to be taken next and what types of support we might need. Families and friends are usually invaluable as they gather around us, assisting in making calls, helping with paperwork, doing the shopping, making the meals, taking care of the children, all the myriad of necessary tasks that continue to need attention in spite of our loss.

The loss of a loved one can be a painfully lonely time and during this coronavirus crisis, you may have found yourself in a position of even greater isolation and aloneness as you try to manage your grief without the face to face contact of family, friends, community, the church or simply the possibility of being able to get out of the home and amongst people.

Whilst it often seems wrong that the world continues on as normal for others after a bereavement, it does at some level, assure us of a sense of external normality even if we have lost our own. Currently, in the midst of this crisis, we do not have the same sense of normality available to us as we look to the external world to hold us during our grief.

So how might we feel and how can we support ourselves and others over the coming days, weeks and months?