Grief is a natural response to loss, and feelings of loss can be compounded during a crisis like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Sometimes, grief-related pain and symptoms—which can be emotional, physical, cognitive, and spiritual—can feel overwhelming, especially for people who are already mourning the death of a loved one.
Keep in mind that grieving during non-crisis times is a highly individual experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, no “normal” timetable for grieving. Healing happens gradually and cannot be hurried.
In times of crisis, however, key factors and reactions can intensify grief and hinder the ability to heal and recover from it. Families and individuals who experience compound grief, can experience:
- Heightened anxiety, linked to uncertainty about the future, the loss of familiar routines, and concerns about your own or your loved ones’ health/well-being.
- Heightened sense of loss, linked to the death of a loved one or pandemic-related losses that leave you feeling overwhelmed, wondering how to put life’s pieces back together.
- Increased isolation and intensified grief, whether from stay-at-home orders or social distancing measures that have compromised the critical, valuable support provided by funerals, memorials, and religious services.
As funeral directors, we do understand that the intensity and reactions of mourning families vary, depending on the nature of the loss, the nature of the relationship with the person who has died, other life stressors, and personalities, coping styles, and life experiences.
During this time of crisis, while our traditional interactions with grieving families may be temporarily adjusted for safety concerns, know that there are still many helpful tips ready and available to help your grieving family, encourage them to:
- Stay connected with loved ones and friends. It’s important to connect daily using any technology available like phone calls, emails, social media, texting and FaceTime.
- Call their doctor’s office and schedule a virtual visit.
- Arrange a call with someone from their spiritual or religious group.
- Consider joining an online support group like the Grief Center or Grief Share.
- Make a virtual appointment with a grief counselor, especially if they feel overwhelmed or have little support.
- Call a national hotline, like SAMHSA Helpline.
- Plan for post COVID-19, this can include:
- The creation of a to-do task list of items that need to be completed once restrictions ease.
- Plan a post memorial event or service if at the time, one could not be held due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- Consider attending a support group for bereaved families who were impacted by COVID-19.
In addition to these tips, consider sourcing additional material to have ready for your grieving families. Ensure all resources are digital too for easy emailing. Always consult with your healthcare partners and continue to build connections outside your local network as more and more providers are seeing their appointment availabilities book up faster during this time.
Since our inception, Osiris Software has been helping funeral homes, cemetery and crematory businesses prosper through innovative solutions and world class customer service.