Grieving the loss of a family member, friend or colleague is difficult. The pandemic has made it even harder for many people to cope. Those who have lost loved ones...
Grieving the loss of a family member, friend or colleague is difficult. The pandemic has made it even harder for many people to cope. Those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 or other illnesses may face additional grief and sadness. Infection control restrictions have left them unable to visit or say goodbye. Moreover, traditional wakes and funeral services have been modified or eliminated due to social distancing and limits on the size of gatherings, changing the way people can comfort and support each other.
Many people have experienced multiple losses. For example, the loss of a loved one at the same time as unemployment and social isolation. The resulting grief may be prolonged and complicated with delays in the ability to heal and move forward.
Common grief reactions
Pain associated with grief is a normal response to loss and can be felt on emotional, physical and spiritual levels. Common reactions to grief are:
Initial feelings of shock, denial, and disbelief, which can be heightened when the death is sudden and unexpected
Feelings of worry, fear, frustration, anger or guilt
Physical reactions such as headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, pain and other stress-related symptoms
Spiritual expressions of grief, such as questioning the meaning and purpose of life, pain and suffering
There is no normal and expected time for mourning to end. Depending on the relationship and circumstances loss, grief can last for weeks to years.
Coping with loss
It is important to find ways to express grief.
Connect with friends, relatives, support groups, and faith-based organizations if applicable, even if the contact must be virtual or by phone. Sharing your feelings with people who understand what you are going through is comforting and eases loneliness.
Participate in an activity, such as planting a tree or creating a memory book, to honor the person you lost. Ask family and friends to contribute their memories and stories.
Take good care of yourself. Maintain a balanced diet, moderate exercise and adequate sleep.
Treat yourself to something you enjoy, such as a massage or a walk in nature.
Avoid the use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs to escape emotional pain.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Allow other people to assume some of your responsibilities when you are feeling overwhelmed.
When some time has passed, if you are having difficulty functioning, seek support through grief counseling, your EAP, support groups or hotlines. As writer Vicki Harrison said, “Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm and sometimes it’s overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
For more information and tips, MagellanHealthcare.com/COVID-19