This blog covers some serious issues that may have impacted you personally; please take a moment to make sure you are in the right frame of mind to benefit from this article positively.
During the global coronavirus pandemic, we are all aware of the huge amount of suffering experienced worldwide, nationally, and also within our own families. As well as feeling sad, people bereaved by Covid-19 are also experiencing the shock of a loved one dying suddenly, often after a very short period of illness – and the prospect of not being able to hug, be hugged and comforted by the touch of others.
Very sadly, some families may not have had the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved ones before they died, which can be particularly upsetting. The observance of other practices and traditions which normally occur after someone has died may also be affected. Those who are already struggling with grief, or whose relatives or friends die through other causes will also be affected.
Grief may knock you off balance emotionally, physically and mentally. Grieving is a personal and unique process; there are no right or wrong ways to grieve. But there are ways of accessing support and taking care of yourself that can ease – if not remove – your feelings of loss.
Support to help with bereavement, grief and loss:
- Cruse Bereavement Care – Offer support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies.
- Sudden – Supporting people after a sudden death, including Covid-19
- NHS – Practical support and signposting to NHS services
- The Good Grief Trust – Coronavirus Bereavement Advice
- At A Loss – Dealing with bereavement and grief during the Covid-19 pandemic
- National Association of Funeral Directors – COVID-19 Funeral Advice
- The Compassionate Friends – support for families after the death of a child; you can also call 0345 123 2304
- Muslim Youth Helpline
- Jewish Bereavement Counseling Service
- Inspirited Minds
- Quaker Social Action
- Marie Curie Telephone Bereavement Support
It is useful to discuss symptoms with your doctor. Medication may be suggested, or counselling or therapy. People who feel depressed may sometimes withdraw from others, and yet consider their increasing isolation as a sign of their own worthlessness, creating a vicious circle that absorbs them.
There are several self-help strategies as well as professional support that can be used to make life easier:
It is well known that when individuals exercise, endorphins are released into the body, creating positive feelings of well-being. There is also the satisfaction that comes from the results of feeling fitter.
Learning new things can lift the mood by giving a sense of diversion and achievement, too. Why not check out some courses? Perhaps a new (or previously abandoned) craft activity can keep those fingers busy and bring some sense of achievement, satisfaction and joy.
Keeping in touch.
By contacting a friend or relative, individuals can engage with other people’s lives and acknowledge other perspectives. The internet and telephone have never been so much appreciated since the lockdown took hold of our lives.
Giving yourself a treat can often lift the mood. This should not mean spending money that you do not have, nor comfort-eating, binge-drinking and drug-taking – which can cause problems in the long term. Instead, people can consider visiting a favourite place as part of daily exercise, watching an uplifting film, or cooking a special meal. Nature can bring much happiness at this time of year – tree blossoms, the growth and blooming of flowers and the activities of wildlife – especially birds – as they go about their daily lives, blissfully unaware of any crisis.
Occasionally, just acting as if one is happy and confident can have the effect of changing feelings, even though it may seem odd at first. Others will react more positively to the person who is good-humoured and upbeat.
Good sleeping, eating and self-care.
Looking after general health can maximize the chances of feeling better soon and an integral part of self-respect. It is difficult to feel good if sleep is disturbed or inadequate. We all know that we should eat a well-balanced diet, but somehow, this may become difficult when we are in a personal crisis. It may take the help of others to persuade someone who is feeling sad – to eat well.
Sometimes, it is difficult for people who feel depressed to take action. Perhaps there are many difficulties in life that cannot be solved. But it is important to find ways of managing difficulties so that they do not totally overwhelm. Seeking help can be the first step to this.
Medical involvement is important because the physical symptoms of sadness and depression may resemble those of other conditions, and these need to be checked. Doctors can suggest a course of anti-depressant drugs if need be. These need to be considered carefully before taking them, as they are not suitable for everyone with depression.
Feelings of loss can involve deeply distressing experiences and it may be one of the largest challenges in people’s lives. It can force people to consider themselves in depth and consider how to change things in life, possibly for the better. Being gentle, reaching out to others and finding pleasure in the small things can be an important part of the healing process. Grief is a complex area of human feeling that may take a very long time to work through, but taking the first steps in self-care is paramount in the steps to feeling better.
For those of us who are interested, we do provide a course on grief and bereavement counselling to help people who find themselves in this situation. You can find out more here.