Web Content Viewer

Actions

Coping With Grief During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jun 05, 2020 3 min read Gail S. Ballin

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy. It’s even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic because necessary quarantine and distancing practices often prevent loved ones from being present during or immediately after the loss. In too many cases, loved ones are not even permitted in the building. Many survivors who don’t have an opportunity to be with loved ones when they die struggle with feelings of extreme guilt and these feelings can have long term impacts on their emotional health.

 

 

Bereavement is complex and very personal. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization indicates that there are three types of bereavement1:

  1. Anticipatory Mourning: This is usually felt when there is an expected death. It includes feelings of loss, concern for the dying person, balancing conflicting demands, and preparing for death. It’s a natural process that provides more time for the family to prepare for life without their loved one.
  2. Sudden Loss: Very different than anticipatory mourning, having a loved one die suddenly may exceed the survivor’s ability to cope and overall functionality.
  3. Complicated Grief: This occurs when grief does not progress as expected and/or the duration or intensity of grief impacts functionality. Symptoms of anxiety and depression may emerge, and thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and reactions persist over a long period of time with little improvement.

With more than 100,000 reported deaths, COVID-19 has been a significant contributor of sudden loss. If you are dealing with this type of loss, there are several steps that you can take to help navigate through it:

  1. Let yourself feel. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings. And don’t judge your feelings. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. Anger, loneliness, frustration, exhaustion, fear, even relief, are all a normal part of dealing with loss.
  2. Take the time to say good-bye. Even if you didn’t have an opportunity to say good-bye to your loved one(s) as they passed, you can still stay good-bye in your own way. Go to a quiet room in your house and take the time to look at their picture or hold one of their personal items and tell your loved one how much they meant to you and how much you miss him/her. In a recent study of front line health care workers,2 a chaplain shared that it’s important to “be creative in the way you honor those that die. Focus on something that was unique to them.” Set up a virtual ‘wake’ focusing on the things that they love the most like, music, art, comic books, etc. Share stories about your loved one and talk about your memories with him/her. Just because we are in
  3. Reach out to friends or family. You may feel alone, but you are not. There are people in your life that will listen and mourn with you. Reach out to them.
  4. Plan a celebration of life in the future when friends and loved ones are able to gather together safely in person.
  5. Join a support group. These days, it will likely be a virtual meeting, but finding other people who can relate to your feelings makes a big difference.
  6. Take care of yourself. Exercise regularly and spend some time outdoors getting some fresh air.
  7. Stay in your routine. Routines provide us with balance and consistency, traits that are critical when dealing with significant loss.
  8. Focus on others by volunteering for an organization or philanthropic cause that is meaningful to you. Helping others will help you feel better.
  9. If your employer offers one, connect with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAPs offer many benefits including in person, telephone, and telehealth counseling options.
  10. Recognize when you need more support and ask for it. If the grieving process is taking a greater toll on you, physically or mentally, you may need additional help. For example, if you’re losing or gaining weight or facing prolonged sleeplessness, or overcome with feelings of hopelessness connect with your medical or health care provider. They should be able to assist you in developing an action plan to help you get through it.

 

 

Remember, you’re never alone and you will get through this. However, if you are overwhelmed with hopelessness or considering self harm, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Opens in new window at 1-800-273-8255

Footnotes

 

Gail Ballin, MS, LCMHC, CCM is a vice president of disability claims for Prudential.

For Compliance Use Only:1036383-00001-00

If you secure tomorrow, you can enjoy today.

Help make sure your loved ones are protected if something happens to you, with Prudential Life Insurance.

Get a Free Quote

Web Content Viewer

Actions

Find What Interests You


Web Content Viewer

Actions

Web Content Viewer

Actions

Web Content Viewer

Actions