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Grieving in Times of COVID

Grieving in Times of COVID

What is it like to grieve in times of COVID? As counsellors, we know that the experience of grief and loss is very unique to each individual. We share this with our clients who may be wondering if what they are feeling is normal, if perhaps they should be over it by now.

This being said, the experience of suffering a bereavement during the current pandemic can be worsened by the accumulation of a number of circumstances. The preliminary findings of UK-wide research led by Cardiff University and the University of Bristol have shown that the experience of losing a loved one to COVID or during the pandemic has left a lot of people acutely struggling with their bereavement and it is something that we, as counsellors, have definitely witnessed in our practice. But to name a few: not being able to say goodbye in person and/or to arrange the funeral in a way that our deceased parent, spouse or child would have wanted, not being able to organise a wake.  Each of these circumstances taken separately can make the process of coming to terms with the loss so much more difficult, yet many people who have lost a loved one during the pandemic have had to make do with all of it. And later, the loneliness and isolation.  Not being able to hug and hold those who would normally give us support and comfort, and generally having to go through it alone because of the way that we are having to live now.  We have seen how feelings of depression and anxiety are also heightened by the fact that we are perpetually reminded, whether in the media or simply on the streets, of what has caused our close one to die and, perhaps, by the attitudes of the people who question the seriousness of the pandemic or do not observe the social distancing rules. 

I disagree with the Guardian that "Covid grief is worse that other types of grief".  For me, it is not about deciding which type of grief is worse than another but more about being aware of what makes grieving in times of COVID so difficult and supporting our clients in identifying what needs to be processed and accompanying them during this painful journey.

If you have been affected by a loss and feel that you need some additional support, you can discuss it with your therapist or contact The Practice, who can put you in contact with one of our therapists working with bereavement and grief.

- Larissa Leiser 

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