Monday 11 May 2020

How To Deal with Death During COVID-19

Grieving is hard enough but is particularly difficult during this pandemic. Normally we can gather around and pay our respects, provide and receive support in the form of face to face chatter, hugs and the like but not now.

Feelings are especially mixed because we don’t have the normal channels to express them but you have a right to feel whatever you’re feeling at the moment. Please keep in mind that one person’s experience and how they cope with the loss may be different than your way so try to avoid making judgements.

There are 7 emotional stages of grief: shock/disbelief, denial, bargaining (making a deal/promise to God/higher power in return for relief from the grief/pain), guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance. It is common to go back and forth from these various stages. Often people feel guilty, i.e., not connecting with the deceased sooner, having left things unsaid, not preventing something from happening i.e., if the deceased committed suicide. It is important to realize that there are some things out of your control. You do not control another person’s actions.

The loss can make you feel empty, like the world has changed and you don’t know how to go on. You may question if it would be disrespectful to the deceased if you did carry on with your life, if you happened to laugh at a joke or have fun with friends or family. Having worked with palliative care patients and clients who wanted to commit suicide, all of them wanted their family and friends to be happy and live their lives. It is appropriate to celebrate the meaning the deceased brought into your life but to stop your life for them is a disservice to their memory.

You may want to try to get back to ‘normal’ but you have memories of the deceased, i.e., little things will trigger you to remember them. You may even pick up the phone to call them only to realize no one will answer. This is part of the adjustment process and will take time. It’s okay to be sad and miss this person like crazy.

During COVID-19, social media can be used to celebrate the deceased person’s life, i.e., pay tribute by sharing stories. That camaraderie provides emotional support, which is important for everyone’s healing process.

Please remember to take care of you. Your health can suffer if you neglect it and that will only make things worse for you and those around you. And if you need to talk to someone, contact a professional like myself. That’s what we are here for.

Grieve, honour their memory with a dedication of some kind, and choose to continue moving forward. That’s what they would have wanted so let’s respect that.

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