There will be times in most individuals’ lives where they will experience bereavement. This can be devastating and losing someone close to us can be extremely difficult and challenging. However, losing someone during the coronavirus pandemic can bring additional emotional and practical challenges.
Bereavement, loss and grief will affect individuals differently and may be influenced by relationships, experience, support networks and beliefs. It is important to remember that there is no correct or right way to grieve and there are no timeframes for when this should or shouldn’t occur.
Grief and Isolation
One of the recommended things to do when you are bereaved is to spend time with others and make sure you are not isolating yourself. However, at the moment it’s important that we all continue to follow Government advice about social distancing and self-isolation in relation to the pandemic. Using technology, such as Skype or FaceTime, to stay connected with others is a great way to spend time with others.
If you live in the house you shared with the person who has died and are now alone, there can be reminders around every corner which can be really hard to deal with. And if there are a number of you living together, the emotion of your loss coupled with the intensity of social distancing and the worry and uncertainty of the current situation can put a strain on relationships and make it harder for individuals to deal with their own grief.
Because of the necessary controls in place when dealing with patients with coronavirus, it often means that people are not able to spend time with their loved one or say goodbye properly before they die. And very sadly, there are many people who have been affected by the virus who were otherwise healthy, meaning the death might come as even more of a shock to those around them.
It is not uncommon to feel a sense of guilt, or to feel very distressed about what you have directly witnessed or been exposed though via the media etc. People may also feel very angry if they believe their loved one did not get the right care from medical professionals. It is also a very common response to feeling abandonment or a loss of control.
These feelings can be extremely intense, and it can help to talk them through with someone you trust. If those feelings persist, it can be helpful to speak to your GP although it may be harder to get an appointment at the moment. There are also helpful organisations such as Cruse who specialise in supporting people who have been bereaved.
Funerals play an important role in helping people come to terms with the loss of someone close. They bring families and friend together, are something to focus on, and are a time to say goodbye. However, there are rules about how funerals can take place during the pandemic.
Many restrictions on funerals are starting to lift, but it is likely that some will remain for some time. Restrictions may also depend on your area as there may be local lockdowns. If you're organising a funeral, it's a good idea to speak to the funeral director or celebrant to understand the rules that are relevant to you. Find more information here.
There are ways to still feel part of a funeral if you can’t be there in person. Cruse suggest the following:
- It might be possible to have someone to video of live stream the funeral in some circumstances
- You could record a message to be played at the funeral, or write a message to be read out
- Ask someone who has attended the funeral to call you afterwards to tell you about it
- Plan for a memorial or event for after restrictions have been lifted
- Hold you own memorial at home at the same time as the funeral. You could look at photos, play their favourite music, light a candle, etc.
Things to try:
- Talk about your feelings to someone you trust
- Make sure you stay connected with friends and family via phone or video call. Avoid isolating yourself from contact
- Ask for help with some of the practical things you need to do. It can be challenging to manage all the arrangements after someone has died under more typical circumstances, but it might be even harder at the moment
- If you have had an angry outburst at someone, apologising can help you and them to feel better
- Remind yourself that these are very unusual circumstances which are out of your control
- Take good care of yourself. Make sure you are eating regular, healthy meals, getting some exercise, and resting. Getting fresh air can be really helpful, so going for a walk is great if you’re able to but just opening some windows and looking outside for a while can still be helpful
Helping someone who has been bereaved:
Stay in touch with them and be patient
Let them talk about how they feel and about the person who has died
Pay attention to whether they are becoming particularly distressed, continuing to struggle with their feelings, or experiencing flashbacks. Suggest the contact their GP or a support organisation, such as the EAP or Cruse.
Offer your help. It can often be helpful to be specific about the help you can offer rather than telling them to ask if they need anything. Suggest things like making phone calls on their behalf where appropriate, arranging for shopping to be delivered, researching what arrangements need to be made, etc.
If you are able to attend the funeral and they are not, think of ways you can help them feel part of the event, like making a recording, calling them afterwards to tell them about it
For general information, visit our bereavement page.
Individuals access support at different times following bereavement and there are usually no timeframes for doing this. There are a variety of support agencies available which someone can consider.
Your GP is your primary care provider and you should seek review if you have any concerns regarding your mental or physical health. GPs can advise you on different sources of support and treatment pathways such as different types of counselling.
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
At JLR all employees have access to the EAP service. This is a free and confidential 24 hour telephone advice and support service which you can contact. They offer counselling and employees are eligible for up to 8 sessions every 12 months. You can also contact them for ‘in the moment’ support should you feel that you need to speak with someone rapidly.
CRUSE are a national organisation specialising in bereavement services. Counselling can be accessed via this service.
For more information please see:
https://www.cruse.org.uk/ or call 0808 808 1677
Please note that there may be a small charge for counselling sessions.