COVID-19 Grief & Loss Support

We recognise the challenges imposed on everyone by the COVID-19 pandemic can have a detrimental effect on an individual’s mental health

COVID-19 Specialist Grief & Loss Support for adults

In a world where facing grief can be difficult, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can make grief seem more isolating and complex.

Experiencing a bereavement or loss during the pandemic has bought with it new challenges to the way that you grieve – like not being able to be with a loved one when they die, or not being able to say your final ‘goodbye’ as you would have liked.

Losing a loved one under any circumstance is one of the most difficult and emotional experiences that you can go through; it can be even tougher at a time when you have to self-isolate and socially distance from your friends and family.

Through funding via The National Lottery Community Fund, we are now able to extend our specialist grief counselling and support offering during the pandemic, providing additional support to people living within local communities.  We can now offer support and counselling to anyone who has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and who may be struggling with a bereavement, significant loss or life-changing/life-limiting illness diagnosis.

We can work with parents, carers, and professionals who are experiencing issues around grief and also have the ability to support those who are themselves supporting children and young people with these issues.  Parents and professionals will be able to access advice and guidance on how they can best support those in their care, as well as gaining their own support.

The Dove Service is here to support you during this difficult time, particularly if you have experienced:

  • Bereavement due to COVID-19 and are struggling with the impact of this loss
  • Life changing illness or life limiting illness – either having had COVID-19 or if you have a pre-existing illness which has been exacerbated by COVID-19
  • Other significant loss due to COVID-19

Grief is typically also associated with death, but it can also follow any type of loss. For example, people often experience grief after a divorce or a job loss. Some of the things people may be grieving as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may also include:

  • Job loss
  • Financial anxiety
  • Loss of safety
  • Worry about loved ones
  • Social distancing, quarantine, and feelings of isolation
  • Changes in daily habits and routines
  • Special plans and events that have been cancelled
  • Clashes with family members over how to protect yourself
  • Worries about how to pay rent, utilities, and other bills
  • Sadness over how the pandemic will affect the world

The impact of COVID-19 on bereavement

For many, losing someone during the Coronavirus pandemic has meant facing tragic loss of life, often in very difficult circumstances. It may have been particularly hard for loved ones and family members to come to terms with, and there will be varying differences in loss and grieving to consider:

Circumstances of the bereavement

During the pandemic, for many, the circumstances of bereavement have been affected. Our loved one’s illness may have developed or progressed very quickly and their death may have been sudden. This can lead to shock and difficulty making sense of what has happened.

You may have been unable to be with your loved ones in the final stages of their illness. You may have been unable to be present for their death, or not had the opportunity to see their body. You may have learned of their death second hand, being informed by a police officer or health care worker. You can be left imagining what happened to them. You may feel troubled or distressed by the thought of your loved one’s discomfort or fear. Or the person who died may have gone through a period of intense care with intermittent hope of recovery, extending the traumatising experience for loved ones.

Many people have been unable to take part in the usual things that happen following a bereavement, such as attending a funeral. Facing these restrictions may have left you unable to say goodbye in the way you may have expected to.

You may have been unable to have the involvement you would have wanted, such as choosing what your loved one wears.  Not having these opportunities can be extremely distressing and lead to difficulty accepting the reality of your loss.

Isolation

Being bereaved can be an extremely lonely experience. During the Coronavirus pandemic this has been made worse by the need to stay apart from friends and family. You may have been separated from work colleagues and others who you know and trust. It may also have made some of your usual sources of support hard to reach.

Isolation can make the experience and feelings of grief more intense. It can make us feel more vulnerable, especially when there is a constant stream of information about the dangers and risks, and discussion of death and dying all around us and in the media. Some have been isolated with others, making it difficult to find the space and freedom to process our feelings in their own way.

You may have been left with practical problems and things to deal with and unable to have contact with those who usually offer you support or help.

Anger and Fear

Feelings of anger and blame are common after a bereavement. This can be worse when the death is more sudden or traumatic. There may be additional reasons to feel angry when someone has died from Coronavirus. People may feel angry that someone has not been able to receive the best care, or that there were not enough controls in place, or that people took risks and weren’t careful to avoid spreading the virus. It can take time to come to terms with anger and it may add more difficulty to processing our feelings as we attempt to balance this with other emotions.

The continuing pandemic might mean we have higher than normal levels of anxiety or fear. This can be made much worse if we have lost someone to the virus. We may fear losing others, or contracting the virus ourselves.

Complicated or Traumatic Loss & Grief

Loss is considered to be traumatic if it was sudden, unexpected, unanticipated and the person who died was someone close to us. Losing someone to COVID-19 has been traumatic for many people, especially if your loved one’s illness was sudden, and their death unexpected.  Or you may have been unable to be with your loved one when they died, making processing what has happened particularly difficult.  Grieving has also been made more complicated due to the enforced distance from loves ones, or from those who may usually provide support.

COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, together with organisations including the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and the National Bereavement Partnership comment…”unexpected deaths, plus lockdown measures, have limited the ability to grieve and seek comfort from others, increasing the risk of prolonged grief disorder (PGD) and threatening a mental health crisis”. Click HERE to read more.

“People are floundering…..there is the constant reminder of the virus, the anxiety that people have that they’re going to fall ill, or that another family member is going to die” – Kathryn de Prudhoe, psychotherapist and representative of ‘COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice’ in The Guardian, 24.09.2020

Common feelings after a traumatic loss

After a traumatic loss, natural responses to the loss of someone close can be intensified and you may feel:

  • shock and numbness and to have a sense of disbelief
  • unable to concentrate or speak well
  • tense, guarded, reluctant to talk to others
  • regret, wishing you could have done or said certain things, or be preoccupied with what could have been done differently.
  • guilt or shame that can be difficult to share with others
  • worried about forgetting the person, the way they looked or sounded, or smelled
  • troubled by distressing images or nightmares – which can lead to difficulty sleeping and physical exhaustion
  • other physical symptoms: tension, pain, illnesses, digestive problems or difficulty eating
  • panic or that things are out of control
  • despairing and feel that life without the person you have lost is too hard to bear – these feelings can come and go, or be deep and lasting. It can be hard to imagine feeling differently
  • Existing mental health conditions may be made worse or new ones triggered by your loss

Bereavement can be personally devastating. It can shake the foundations of your life.  It is not a sign of failure to suffer these problems.

It is important to take extra care of yourself; reach out to people you trust and let them know you need support – it is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Needing and finding support

Complicated or traumatic loss and grief can be more difficult to come through, and you may wonder whether you need extra support. Bereavement support can help to restore some mental wellbeing and enable you to continue to move through your grieving process.

It may be appropriate to seek support if after a period of around 4 weeks you are experiencing:

  • Reactions to your loss staying the same or worsening
  • Flashbacks, nightmares of what happened, or what you imagine happened
  • Feeling numb and being unable to feel positive
  • Constantly thinking about what has happened and being unable to think of other things
  • Being unable to eat or sleep normally
  • Having suicidal thoughts

N.B. The above is a guide only – if you have any feelings or reasons to think you may need urgent help you should seek immediate support.

How we can help you

  • Our counselling team can assist in providing specialist grief & loss counselling to adults or parents & carers currently supporting others.  We offer this service to adults residing within Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, Cheshire and the Wirral – our counselling service can be offered via telephone or video link
  • Our team can provide training/information & guidance to professionals on ‘Facing Grief’ – tailored to suit your needs
  • Self-help resources and tools will be available to access via our website and Facebook page

How to access our COVID-19 grief support

To access our grief support counselling or for more information on training for your staff, please call us at our Head Office:

Tel. 01782 683155 (Mon-Fri, office hours)
(please leave a voicemail message if our line is busy)

Email us at enquiries@thedoveservice.org.uk and our team will be in touch

Leaflets and Resources

Please download our leaflets here:

GA THUMBAG THUMB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grief Allowed (PDF)            Allow Grief  (PDF)